As we head into the Canada Day long weekend, I had nothing really big I wanted to write about, but a handful of little things. Thus, the Friday Internet Law News Dump was born. Is it reminiscent of another quickie type of post I used to write in another life? Maybe. Is it an easy way to avoid paying off bets of scotch to certain individuals? Shut up.
So let’s dive into some internet law news, shall we?
You are going to have trouble getting news on the internet now
Boy is that meta! Speaking of Meta but with an upper-case M, how’s this for a headline: Canadians will no longer have access to news content on Facebook and Instagram, Meta says. So why is that?
Well, last week Bill C-18, the Online News Act, received Royal Assent. I actually wrote about Bill C-18 last year when it was introduced, so go ahead and read that again. Go ahead, I’ll wait. So now you know that the Online News Act forces “digital news intermediaries” to bargain with Canadian media outlets to somehow use, including just linking to, their news stories on the internet. It’s up to the CRTC to determine who these digital news intermediaries are, but surely Facebook and any other big social media company will be on that list.
So Meta said fuck that. They joined Google in saying fuck that, we just won’t link to news on the internet from our platform! That’ll show the Canadian government. Speaking of the Canadian government, I’d like to quote from the news release about the bill receiving Royal Assent I linked to above:
This new law will require the largest digital platforms to bargain fairly with Canadian news businesses for the use of their news content on their services
For the use of their news content. Is linking to news content from Facebook “using” it? I expect the courts will be deciding that sometime in the future.
You are going to have trouble getting English content on the internet now (Quebecers only)
On June 1st, a whole bunch of provisions of Bill 96 (PDF), which updated the Charter of the French Language (colloquially known as “Bill 101” for those of you who were alive in the 1970s and anglophone) came into force. So on June 1st, a whole bunch of websites started to show messages like what you see above when you click on the “English” button. That is from SAQ.com, the province’s liquor monopoly. The SAQ is essentially a government body. The new rules of Bill 96 state that everyone gets served in French by Quebec government bodies. Unless you fall under one of the exceptions. Fortunately, I had English parents and was born prior to 1976 and wrote (and passed) Français 512 exams in secondaire V and once ventured East of boulevard Saint-Laurent prior to my 18th birthday and had a Jewish grandmother who immigrated from Central Europe. I think that makes me an exception so I can get English services from the Quebec government. The rules are so fucking complicated. So I can click on that English SAQ.com content, safely.
And here’s another story with a legal angle. I was applying online for a credit card a couple of weeks ago. I was doing it in English on my bank’s website. But then at a certain point in the process, I got to this:
You are going to have trouble getting LGBTQ+ wedding content on the internet now (USA only)
For those of you who accuse me of writing about cases from months or years ago [/raises hand…] I am going to now write about a case that came out, like, an hour ago. This news story about the case is time-stamped literally 10 minutes before I write these words. I don’t think I can take all this timeliness!
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in typical 6 assholes to 3 reasonable people fashion, in a case called 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis (PDF), that that a web designer can say Fuck You to gay couples wanting to get married. Let’s go to the opening of this decision summary for the background:
Lorie Smith wants to expand her graphic design business, 303 Creative LLC, to include services for couples seeking wedding websites. But Ms. Smith worries that Colorado will use the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act to compel her—in violation of the First Amendment—to create websites celebrating marriages she does not endorse
Held by the the allegedly best 9 judges in the United States (well, the 6 assholes): Yes, she can tell gay couples who want her to build them a website that they can fuck off, even thought that is against Colorado’s anti-discrimination law. Why? Stay with me here (if you can) – because it would violate the web designer’s free speech rights to say that gays are icky because her religion says so.
And what really gets this lawyer’s blood boiling is that no gay couple ever asked her to build a website for them. She (or more likely some dark money right wing group) decided to ask the courts “hey is it ok if I discriminate against gays because my religion says so? You know, just in case some gays ever ask me.” No gays are asking her, that’s for sure. ANYWAY, if you know US law, the courts should never have even taken her case. A complicated legal thing called “standing” that I am out of time to explain. As I write this, I realize this case is really not an internet law case, but a civil rights or first amendment case, so I’ll shut up now. Also, it is Friday before (during?) a long weekend and it is drinking time.
Just be happy we live in a country where all the gays can get all the websites they want. Just maybe they should be in French.