July 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s Federal government released plans Thursday to create a “Digital Safety Commissioner” who would have the power to shut down websites deemed a threat to “democracy,” and to promote content deemed “harmful.”
“Canadians expect their government to take action against serious forms of harmful content online. We need to create new rules for social media platforms and online services to address harmful online content and hold individuals accountable, while respecting the importance of freedom of expression in a free and democratic society,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti in a press release regarding the government launch of a “public consultation on a proposed approach for promoting a safe, inclusive and open online environment.”
According to the government, the “Digital Safety Commissioner” would be tasked with overseeing and enforcing a new set of rules to regulate online media.
The new rules would be based on a new piece of legislation to be introduced “in the fall of 2021,” as well as on Bill-36, which was introduced in June, according to the discussion guide about the proposed changes.
The new legislation would apply to “online communication service providers” which the government defines as major social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, as well as Pornhub.
Both “fitness applications or travel review websites” would be excluded from the new rules, as would “private communications, nor telecommunications service providers or certain technical operators.”
However, the legislation would also allow the government to “include or exclude categories of online communication service providers from the application of the legislation within certain parameters.”
The new rules would also give the government the power to shut down websites within “24 hours” of being flagged for having allegedly “hateful” content.
“Once platform users flag content, regulated entities would be required to respond to the flagged content by assessing whether it should be made inaccessible in Canada, according to the definitions outlined in legislation. If the content meets the legislated definitions, the regulated entity would be required to make the content inaccessible from their service in Canada within 24 hours of being flagged,” reads the discussion guide regarding the new proposed rules.
The “Digital Safety Commissioner” would be joined with a new “Digital Recourse Council of Canada,” as well as an “Advisory Board.”
The Recourse Council would “provide people in Canada with independent recourse for the content moderation decisions of regulated entities like social media platforms,” says the government.
The “Advisory Board” would be tasked with providing both the Commissioner and the Recourse Council with “expert advice to inform their processes and decision-making, such as advice on emerging industry trends and technologies and content-moderation standards.”
According to the discussion guide on the new proposed rules, the government claims that a “growing body of evidence shows that these benefits also come with significant harms.”
“Individuals and groups use social media platforms to spread hateful messaging. Indigenous Peoples and equity-deserving groups such as racialized individuals, religious minorities, LGBTQ2 individuals and women are disproportionately affected by hate, harassment, and violent rhetoric online,” reads the guide.
The government has set a deadline of September 6 for all “Canadians and stakeholders” to provide “comments, perspectives and evidence concerning these issues and potential options.”
The government claims that the comments will be taken into consideration to help “inform” the upcoming planned legislation, and also notes they will be holding “roundtable discussions to have focused conversations on aspects of the law enforcement and national security proposals,” in the coming weeks.
Bill C-36 was introduced by Justice Minister David Lametti just before Canada’s House of Commons closed for summer break.
The bill is titled “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act and to make related amendments to another Act (hate propaganda, hate crimes and hate speech).”
If passed, bloggers and social media users could be targeted for speaking their minds.
Bill C-36 would complement any new legislation proposed Thursday, and, according to the government, would target “terrorist content, content that incites violence, hate speech, non-consensual sharing of intimate images, and child sexual exploitation content.”
Canada banned hate speech in 1970, but Bill C-36 includes text to amend Canada’s Criminal Code and Human Rights Act to define “hatred” as “the emotion that involves detestation or vilification and that is stronger than dislike or disdain (haine).”
If passed, the bill would theoretically allow a tribunal to judge anyone who has a complaint of online “hate” leveled against them, even if he has not committed a crime. If found guilty, the person would be in violation of the new law and could face fines of up to $70,000, as well as house arrest.
According to the text of Bill C-36, it would become a discriminatory practice to communicate “or cause to be communicated hate speech by means of the internet or other means of telecommunications in a context in which the hate speech is likely to foment detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”
In June, files from Canada’s Heritage Ministry under Minister Steven Guilbeault suggested that social media must be censored in the name of democracy.
Canada’s House of Commons passed the controversial internet regulation Bill C-10 on June 22 at 1:30 a.m.
The bill would force websites, including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, to remove content deemed “harmful” within 24 hours, and compel sites such as Netflix to have more Canadian content.
Bill C-10 failed to pass the Senate during the last day of debate on June 29, before the upper chamber broke for the summer.
Both Bill C-36 and Bill C-10 will die if Trudeau calls an election this summer or autumn, as is anticipated.
Recently, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police praised Bill C-36, saying it would give cops the power to “do something” about online “hate.”
Conservative opinion writer Spencer Fernando gave a scathing review of Bill C-36 in a report he posted today: “With Bill C-10, and now Bill C-36, there can be zero doubt that the Trudeau Liberal government is engaged in an attack on your freedom of expression.”
According to Fernando, Bill C-36 is “incredibly dangerous, goes against Canada’s values, and must be stopped.”
Digital Citizen Initiative
Department of Canadian Heritage
25 Eddy St
Gatineau QC K1A 0S5
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 819-997-0055 & 1-866-811-0055 (toll-free)
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault – Minister of Canadian Heritage
15 Eddy Street, 12th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M5
Email: [email protected]
MP Michelle Rempel Garner
Conservative shadow minister for industry and economic development
Suite 115, 70 Country Hills Landing NW
Calgary, AB T3K 2L2
Email: [email protected]
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