The CWTA (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association) has won its legal battle against the Quebec government. The court case was over the government’s effort to restrict internet access to certain gambling sites. Quebec’s Superior Court has overturned the provincial government’s bid to restrict access to some online gambling sites. Quebec’s provincial government had ordered restriction of online gambling sites that were not regulated by Quebec’s gambling board. The bid was described as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court Judge handing the ruling.
The Ban on Private Online Gambling Sites
In 2016, Quebec instated the legislation that required telecoms providers to block access to sites for real money gambling that were not regulated by the state-run Loto-Quebec. Loto-Quebec is the government’s gambling regulation authority. The government of Quebec argued that private online gambling firms didn’t have the same responsible gambling rules and measures that the government had.
The CWTA challenged the law as they felt it overstepped constitutional freedoms. The CWTA felt that the Quebec Provincial government was overstepping its jurisdiction in trying to censor the internet freedom of Quebec’s residents. Canada’s telecommunications industry also argued that the legislation overarching into criminal and telecommunications is beyond Quebec’s jurisdiction.
Why the Legislation Was Introduced
Quebec’s government declared that the legislation was to protect the safety and health of Quebec’s population from irresponsible gambling and gambling addiction. What is interesting to note is, in 2015 it was recorded that Loto-Quebec’s online gambling platform was losing revenue. Soon after in 2016, the government proposed the ban of access to private online gambling sites that weren’t regulated by Quebec’s government.
The Supreme Court’s Ruling
The Superior Court judge overturned the legislation, which had not come into effect yet, earlier this week. He stated that the law was in fact, not about the safety of Quebec’s residents, and more about securing more profit for Loto-Quebec.
The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association welcomed the ruling. If the law had come into effect, the CWTA would have been mandated to block some sites in favour of others which would be violating the concept of “Net Neutrality” which is carved into the Telecommunications Act of 1993.