Québec challenged over IP blocking

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The Québec government is facing a challenge to its controversial decision to block gambling websites in the Canadian province.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), a group that champions consumer rights, has filed an application with the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in objection to Bill 74, a law passed earlier this year that gives Loto-Québec, the provincial gambling authority, the power to order internet service providers (ISPs) to block its online competitors.

PIAC’s application to the watchdog alleges that Bill 74 encroaches on the federal government’s jurisdiction over telecommunications and is inconsistent with past CRTC decisions on website blocking under the Telecommunications Act.

“There is a risk that if Québec is found legally competent to order ISPs to block certain content, other content may be added to the list of what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and other provinces could follow suit,” said Geoffrey White, a lawyer for PIAC. “Given how vital the Internet is to preserving and promoting human rights, including free speech, one province’s foray into ISP regulation could result in the steepest of slippery slopes.”

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