The Federal Court of Canada recently issued Canada’s first ever site blocking order in Bell Media Inc v GoldTV Services, 2019 FC 1432. The court compelled Canadian internet services providers (ISPs) to take steps to block their customers from accessing websites operated by pirate streaming sites GoldTV.biz and GoldTV.ca.
The plaintiff ISPs (Bell and Rogers) first began pushing the CRTC, Canada’s media regulatory agency, to create a blacklist of piracy sites and to require all other Canadian ISPs to block such sites. When the CRTC declined to do so, Bell and Rogers commenced a lawsuit in Federal Court. The Federal Court concluded that making a Canada-wide blocking order was ‘just and convenient’ in the circumstances.
This case, along with the Supreme Court of Canada case Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc, 2017 SCC 34 signals that Canadian courts are more willing to regulate the internet, where internet regulation was traditionally thought to be in Parliament’s realm. Critics fear that this decision could lead to further censorship of the internet and argue that site blocking should only be used as a last resort.