Imminent online hate speech law worries defenders of freedom of speech

A federal bill to combat harmful content and online hate speech will soon be submitted, but advocates of freedom of speech are concerned that it could be too restrictive. Critics have also warned of amendments to existing bill C-10, which seeks to regulate video content on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.

The upcoming hate speech bill will create a new regulator with the power to impose fines and demand transparency from social media, including algorithms. The law also establishes a legal framework for prohibiting malicious expression, terrorist content, content that incites violence, non-consensual sharing of intimate content, and content that sexually exploits children.

“By submitting the bill, it doesn’t matter if the company is Canadian or not,” said Heritage Minister Stephen Gilbeau recently, according to a BlackRock reporter. “No matter where the company is registered, it doesn’t matter where the server is. Once a publication is flagged, it must be removed within 24 hours.”

Conservative MP Bradvis told The Epoch Times that the premise was reminiscent of George Orwell.

“I haven’t read it since high school, but it’s a lot like ‘1984’,” Vis said of a dystopian novel published by a British writer in 1949.

“All I know is, as a new MP, I see it and I’m.” The Government of Canada says, among all that is happening in the country, people say online. Want to create a new government agency to monitor what you’re doing? What happened to the criminal law? What happened to our judicial system? “

“Thought Police”

Mr Vis said he was concerned that the proposal would enhance political correctness rather than addressing actual hate speech. He recalled the 2018 Liberal Government’s requirement that applicants for the Canadian Summer Jobs program prove approval of the abortion right.

Epoch Times Photo
Conservative MP Brad Vis will speak at the House of Commons in Ottawa on March 9, 2021. (Canadian Press / Adrian Wild)

“This government has a history of trying to get people to think of specific ways to get government funding. I don’t think it’s appropriate,” he said.

“I’m in a bad mood. I’m worried because of that …. We have a criminal law for a reason. Let’s use it. Ottawa’s government imposes heavy fines for statements on the Internet. But I don’t think it’s the right way to get things done. “

Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, expressed similar sentiment, noting that the standards for demonstrating civil remedies are low compared to the strict criminal justice system already in place to deal with hate crimes.

“If other committees or boards make decisions about civil punishment for hate crimes, someone is more likely to be held liable for hate speech, because when talking about citizens, make reasonable doubts. There is no need to prove beyond that, which is fine as opposed to criminal conviction, “Konachar said in an interview.

He also expressed concern about the proposed political implications for the new regulatory body.

“You don’t want anyone on any party to have the power to decide what is wrong information or to choose people who decide what is wrong information,” he said. Said.

Gilbo’s announcement was prompted Tweet Vis: “I never thought I needed to worry about Canada’s” Thought Police “for the rest of my life. Even the idea of ​​this bill worries me. “

A spokesperson for the Canadian Ministry of Cultural Heritage said the social media platform “removes illegal content: sexually exploited content for children, terrorist and violent radicalist content, malicious language, and intimate, non-consensual images. To do so, we need a law proposed by the government, “he told the Epoch Times. .. “

“The goal is to promote a safer and more comprehensive online environment, allowing all Canadians to exercise their expressiveness online without being hit by hatred or threatening attacks,” said Daniel Savoie. Is stated in the email.

“Government regulation is needed to make platform behavior more transparent and accountable to users.”

“Great Firewall in China”

Guilbeault’s previous bill, Bill C-10, had already proposed putting some Internet content providers under Canadian Radio and Television Communications (CRTC) regulations. Introduced in November 2020, the law was the first law to amend Canada’s Broadcasting Act since 1991.

Epoch Times Photo
The CRTC logo appears on Montreal file photos. (Canadian Press / Graham Hughes)

“”when YouTube or Facebook act as broadcasters, laws apply to them, and CRTC defines how it is done. ” Gilbo said The Standing Committee of the House of Commons on Canadian Heritage on March 8.

On April 26, a Liberal Party-dominated committee amends Bill C-10, which updates the Broadcast Act that regulates video content on Internet platforms, just as national broadcasters are regulated. Approved.

The Conservatives criticized the move, saying it was giving CRTC too much power to regulate the statementMP Alain Rayes of the Conservative Party, the shadow minister of his party in Canadian heritage, has inserted a fix to allow social media users with less than $ 50 million in income to be exempt from the new regulations. They tried, but said their request was denied.

“There is no clear evidence that liberals are not only chasing large foreign streaming services, but also targeting ordinary Canadians,” Rays said. “We support creating a fair competition between large foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters, but the C-10 overpowers the CRTC to regulate the Internet. It’s a bad law to give and doesn’t provide clear guidelines on how that power is used. “

Gilbo Said “I’m disappointed to see Alain Rayes and CPC very disconnected,” he said on Twitter.

“Once again, they disappointed the cultural sector and refused to confront the web giants,” he said.

In an interview, Lakehead University associate professor Ryan Alford said the bill’s supplementary documents provide a complete picture of the impact of bill C-10.

“It is the details of the Order in Council draft that provide this massive extension of the power of the CRTC,” Alford said.

“In the view of CRTC regulators, there could be heavy fines and the idea that Internet service providers would need to block access to individual Canadian websites. [says] Harmful or harmful, “he said. “We’re talking about something that could look like China’s Great Firewall.”

Gilbo told Commons Committee Earlier this year He wanted to protect Canada’s “world-famous public service” from online criticism. He also said the new regulator could block posts that could “break Canada’s social cohesion,” Toronto Sun reported.

Alford said Gilbo’s past comments on the issue speak for themselves.

“He doesn’t seem to understand the purpose of freedom of speech. He doesn’t understand what it is for. He has no sense of its value. And finally. He sees the government as people who should be protected from the injuries and harms of the people, so he denies it head-on, “Alford said. “It’s hard to imagine anything more Orwellian.”

Reasonable restrictions and increased censorship

Mr Alford said the Supreme Court’s ruling revealed ways to reasonably reduce freedom of speech and other ways in which it would be unconstitutional.

“Not a rational limit is a limit that targets and regulates speech that only undermines the dignity of the people, and of course it is a very logical reason for this bill as it is being promoted by Minister Gilbo. “Alford said. “So he works against the backdrop of the Supreme Court of the land, [which is] “This is exactly what you can’t do,” he says. But he’s trying to do that … through CRTC’s management equipment. “

Mr Alford said excessive restrictions on speech under the new law would be difficult to overturn through the challenges of the Charter.

“The problem is that we need to seek judicial review in the federal court of that order of the CRTC. And in the way Canadian administrative law works, there is more obedience to the administration …. What are they? Somehow we are getting this tolerance for our charter. “

Cara Zwibel, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s Basic Freedom Program, told The Epoch Times that the Internet is a “troublesome and dangerous place” for some people and groups. I don’t know. ” The mechanism the government is considering is the right mechanism to deal with it. “

Zwibel said it was concerned that social media companies could lead to increased censorship.

“The concern is that there are many other things that will be removed because the platform is concerned about fines, and they will make mistakes on the side of removing more, not less,” Sibel said. Told.