Quebec launches legal appeal against blacklisting block

Attorney General lodges appeal citing consumer protection and public health grounds

The Quebec attorney general’s office has filed an appeal against the Quebec Supreme Court’s (QSC) decision to bar it from blacklisting egaming websites operating without a licence in Quebec.

It follows the QSC’s decision in July to rule in favour of a challenge to proposals made by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), which questioned whether the Quebec assembly could tell the CWTA which websites it could provide access to.

At the time, Justice Pierre Noilett dismissed the Quebec authorities aims of protecting Quebec consumers, finding that the “pith and substance [of the bill] is to prevent online gambling not set up and operated by the province from being ‘communicated’ by ISPs, [rather than] the protection of consumers or their health”.

However, the appeal filing asserts the precedence of provincial law in issues of consumer protection and public health issues over the authority of federal law.

It further adds that the prevention of criminal activities in the province cannot be invalidated by a court just because enforcement against these activities involves a federally regulated activity such as telecommunications, which is regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) under the Canadian Telecommunications Act (1993).

Measures to create a blacklist of unlicensed egaming operators were first considered in May 2016 with the assent of Bill 74 in the Quebec assembly. The legislation required Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to almost 2,200 banned websites with a $76,000 fine payable by any operator found to be targeting Quebec citizens.

The attorney general is acting on behalf of Loto-Quebec, the largest licensed operator in the province and the biggest beneficiary of any potential blacklisting regime.

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