Canada Pushes to Regulate Online Content

( — The Canadian government is considering a plan to limit and remove the nebulous ‘harmful content’ from the internet, focusing on postings affecting minors. The measure is now making its way through Parliament and would establish a new regulatory body that may issue removal orders for anything that is considered child abuse or personal images and videos uploaded without permission (also known as revenge porn) within 24 hours.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration aims to tackle “lawlessness” on the internet. However, opponents of the bill say that it will stifle free speech due to its burdensome provisions, especially those that target hate speech, which can be vaguely defined and subjective.

As a consequence of non-compliance, tech corporations might face government probes and penalties in the multimillion-dollar range. Businesses will be required to provide strategies for digital safety, which should include measures to prevent children’s access to inappropriate material.

Concerns about the ability of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok to spread dangerous information unchecked have led to Canada’s decision to regulate tech companies. Legislation aimed at policing internet material has been passed by the EU, UK, and Australia; the US is still pondering its response.

One of the most contentious aspects of the comprehensive measure is its provision to criminalize and institute civil fines for hate speech—an act of hatred, whether verbal or physical, would be criminalized under one clause. At the present time, hate crimes cannot be prosecuted alone but may be included as elements in other crimes, depending on the specifics. People might also seek what is essentially a protective order against those they believe are “hating on them” if another piece of legislation were to pass.

Some groups in Canada have voiced concerns about the law, claiming that it might result in overbroad violations of expressive freedom, privacy, protest rights, and liberty.

Given the strong criticism leveled against the measure so far and its early parliamentary status, revisions are likely to be made before a final vote.

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