Quebec’s law that blocks unauthorized gaming sites ruled unconstitutional

A Quebec legislative provision that compelled Internet service providers to block unauthorized gaming websites has been found unconstitutional by the Quebec Court of Appeal as it infringes on areas of exclusive federal jurisdiction.

Following in the footsteps of several European nations, including Cyprus, Denmark and Romania, the Quebec government amended the Consumer Protection Act (Act) in 2016 via an omnibus budget bill to introduce a provision that obliged Internet service providers (ISPs) to implement blocking measures to prohibit Quebec residents from accessing unauthorized gambling websites. The blacklist would be drawn up by Loto-Québec, the government agency that operates and develops lotteries in the province. Internet service providers that failed to comply faced steep fines — up to $100,000 and twice that amount for subsequent offences.

“From a commercial perspective it has had mixed results,” remarked gaming lawyer Michael Lipton of Dickinson Wright LLP. “Some jurisdictions have tried it; others have backed away from it.”

Continue reading “Quebec’s law that blocks unauthorized gaming sites ruled unconstitutional”

Informed bet

Odds are that the federal government is going to legalize single-event sports wagering. The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill C-218) was unanimously passed by the House of Commons, and is currently before the Senate.

Similar private member’s bills have previously made it this far, but this time it’s different. The bill has all-party support, and has the backing of the sports industry and police, both of which opposed legislation in the Senate in 2015. A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a federal law prohibiting single-event sports betting outside of Nevada, giving each state the power to decide whether to allow it within their borders, has changed the North American gaming landscape, adding pressure on Ottawa to follow suit as 30 states and counting have either launched legal sports betting or passed legislation. “The U.S. Supreme Court decision was probably a trigger point because once it becomes regulated in the U.S. then you ask what is fundamentally different about that form of entertainment in Canada from the U.S,” notes Don Bourgeois, former General Counsel for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and now counsel with Fogler, Rubinoff LLP.

Continue reading “Informed bet”

New tort for online harassment recognized by court

A new tort of “harassment in internet communications” has been recognized after Ontario Superior Court found that traditional defamation law remedies have been thrown into disarray by the internet.

In a case dealing with extraordinary campaigns of malicious harassment and defamation carried out unchecked, for many years, as unlawful acts of reprisal, Ontario Superior Court Justice David Corbett held that while regulation of speech carries with it the risk of over-regulation, even tyranny, doing nothing also also “carries with it the risk of anarchy and the disintegration of order.”

[4]               Freedom of speech and the law of defamation have developed over centuries to balance the importance of preserving open public discourse, advancing the search for truth (which must allow for unpopular and even incorrect speech), protecting personal reputations, promoting free democratic debate, and enforcing personal responsibility for statements made about others.  The value of freedom of speech, and the need for some limits on that freedom, have long been recognised as central to a vibrant and healthy democracy and, frankly, any decent society.

[5]               The internet has cast that balance into disarray.

[6]               This case illustrates some of the inadequacies in current legal responses to internet defamation and harassment.  This court’s response is a solution tailored for these cases and addresses only the immediate problem of a lone publisher, driven by hatred and profound mental illness, immune from financial constraints and (dis)incentives, apparently ungovernable except through the sledgehammer response of incarceration…

It is clear that the law needs better tools, greater inter-jurisdictional cooperation, and greater regulation of the electronic “marketplace” of “ideas” in a world with near universal access to the means of mass communication.

Here is the ruling.

Time for the Quebec disciplinary council to Zoom out

The Quebec justice system, like elsewhere, is scrambling to put in place measures to make things move along during the Covid-19 outbreak. Sometimes, though, well-intentioned efforts risk doing more harm than good, especially if the recourses are rushed and not necessarily well researched, examined and analyzed.

This appears to be the case with efforts by the Quebec disciplinary council of presidents.

Continue reading “Time for the Quebec disciplinary council to Zoom out”

Competition Bureau clamping down on online misleading advertising

The Competition Bureau is keeping a watchful eye on the digital world.

The Commissioner of Competition, Matthew Boswell, has made it plain that one of his priorities is to investigate and clamp down on false and misleading advertising online, and build trust in the digital economy through enforcement, “a key element of our vision.”

Continue reading “Competition Bureau clamping down on online misleading advertising”

Suspected PlexCoin founders agree to pay nearly US$7 million

Dominic Lacroix and Sabrina Paradis-Royer lived the good life, while it lasted. He leased a $140,000 luxurious Mercedes Benz and bought a T-Rex, a three-wheeled sports car manufactured by a now bankrupt Canadian company. He purchased a $2.52 million home in a chic neighborhood in Quebec City, and then poured nearly half a million dollars in renovations. And he amassed a healthy fortune, hovering around US$3.3 million, not counting 1,677 bitcoins and other virtual currencies, in the span of a couple of months.

Continue reading “Suspected PlexCoin founders agree to pay nearly US$7 million”

Troll sentenced to prison for inciting hate online following Quebec City mosque massacre

A troubled young Quebec City man who incited hate against Arabs by writing unapologetically “cruel and racist” rantings on social media hours after six people were shot dead and five wounded at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017 was sentenced to 60 days in prison.

The 20-year old arborist, who pled guilty, blamed his drug-induced intoxicated state for his online racist comments. He testified that he consumed cocaine, ketamine and MDMA at a rave. He also admitted during trial that he was “a bit racist” but was willing to make a public apology and make a donation in exchange for an absolute discharge.

Court of Quebec Judge Mario Tremblay would have none of it. The comments were heinous, issued at a time when victims, the Arab community and society were coping with grief, and were made repeatedly, held Judge Tremblay.

“Considering the context in which the comments were made and its contents, the sentence must be sufficiently severe to have a denunciation effect,” said Judge Tremblay in R. c. Huot 2018 QCCQ 4650. “The accused has no excuse. He made these comments repeatedly” during three days.

But Judge Tremblay made it plain that the accused was not sentenced because he still holds racist thoughts. Rather his deeply held personal views “wipe out the possibility” that his excuses are sincere and he failed to demonstrate a genuine awareness and recognition of the harm done to Arab community and society at large, added Judge Tremblay.

Echoing remarks made more than a decade ago in R. c. Presseault, 2007 QCCQ 384 by then Court of Quebec Judge Martin Vauclair, now a Quebec Court of Appeal Justice, Judge Tremblay lamented that he could not impose a stiffer sentence because of “choices made by the legislator.” The maximum sentence for inciting hate is two years imprisonment.

“The consequences associated with such remarks are latent, pernicious and could have an explosive impact on a fragile person susceptible of committing an illegal act,” concluded Judge Tremblay.

The arborist, the third person to be charged for inciting hate crimes following the Quebec City mosque shooting, will serve his sentence intermittently, on weekends.

Quebec’s plans to block unlicensed gaming sites ruled unconstitutional

The Quebec government took a gamble, and lost.

Under the guise of concern for the health and safety of Quebecers, the provincial government introduced controversial legislation that compelled Internet service providers to block unlicensed gambling websites.

It was a ruse, a move to protect their turf and increase revenues.

So concluded Quebec Superior Court Justice Pierre Nollet who held that Quebec’s effort was unconstitutional because it infringes upon federal jurisdiction on telecommunications and criminal law matters.

The contentious legislation was closely watched by other provinces who have online gaming offerings. Much is at stake. H2 Gambling Capital, a leading supplier of gambling data and market intelligence, predicted that the value of the global online casino and bingo market would surge to approximately US$13.5 billion by 2018, representing a compound annual growth rate of more than 10 per cent from 2014.

Or as renown Montreal gaming lawyer Morden Lazarus told me: “The provinces have decided that they want to get into online gaming and they want to be able to generate these revenues for their own benefit. The Quebec government is leading the charge.”

The decision may have wider implications, according to Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. A coalition of companies including broadcasters like the CBC, telecoms (including Bell Canada) and creative groups have asked the federal regulator Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to create an agency that blocks websites with illegal content.

But Judge Nollet noted that the 1993 Telecommunications Act enshrines the concept of net neutrality, and requires the CRTC to block sites only under strict circumstances.

“In the Court’s opinion, section 36 (of the Act) does not permit telecommunications companies to modify signals, whether legal or not, except in certain cases provided for in the regulatory policy such as the power to modify the signal to eliminate network threats,” said Judge Nollet in Association canadienne des télécommunications sans fil c. Procureure générale du Québec, 2018 QCCS 3159.

The link to network threats is important, said Geist in a blog posting, because “supporters of the Bell site blocking plan (who argue that it does not implicate the net neutrality rules) cite a 2009 CRTC net neutrality decision reference to illicit materials, which they claim could include copyright infringing materials.

“I argue that the reference ‘clearly refers to network threats, not the content of the materials.’ The court in this case agrees with the need for a link to network threats. The illegality of content – whether copyright infringement or online gambling – does not go directly to the security and integrity of the network.”

U.S. SEC obtains another order to freeze assets of alleged PlexCorps founder

The noose is tightening around Dominic Lacroix, a Quebec City businessman believed by Quebec’s financial watchdog and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to be behind PlexCorps, a controversial cryptocurrency start-up accused of fraudulently selling millions of dollars’ worth of digital assets.

Continue reading “U.S. SEC obtains another order to freeze assets of alleged PlexCorps founder”

Suspected PlexCoin founder sentenced to two months in prison

Dominic Lacroix, a Quebec City businessman believed by Quebec’s financial watchdog and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to be behind PlexCorps, a controversial cryptocurrency start-up accused of fraudulently selling up to $15 million of tokens, was sentenced to two-month jail term and fined $10,000 for contempt of court.

“The defendants fully understood the orders but intentionally and voluntarily disrgarded them,” said Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc Lesage in a 15-page ruling dated December 8th. “The Court finds that this is a case of exteme case of contempt and bad faith by the defendants.”

Continue reading “Suspected PlexCoin founder sentenced to two months in prison”