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Canada: Government Pushes Flawed Internet Age Verification and Blocking Law, Fines Up to $500,000 for Non-Compliance

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Canadian authorities are clearly making a concerted and targeted effort to grab control over various aspects of their citizens’ online activities, and the way internet companies are allowed to operate.

And that’s true both of the government and the legislators, who are not afraid to support dubious bills if it benefits their immediate political interest.

Another such draft, now moving close to becoming law, is Bill S-210. It is designed to push the implementation of age verification, choosing sites that feature sexually explicit material as its primary target.

We obtained a copy of the bill for you here.

Such methods, however, bring up serious privacy concerns affecting everybody on the internet, all the more so since S-210 is described as going beyond porn sites and threatening those found to be non-compliant with blocking and fines.

This one was not supported by the Liberal government, which dubbed it “fundamentally flawed” – whether because that government is truly worried about privacy violations and overreach (other controversial bills it has pushed do not suggest that it truly does).

It could be opposing it for purely political reasons. Namely, the bill received full support from the opposition in the parliament, led by the Conservatives, and observers say it is now at the Standing Committee on Public Safety for review.

In addition, thanks to MPs who push delay tactics when it comes to witnesses whose testimony might have produced amendments, S-210 might become law in its current form.

The bill has been in the Senate for several years, with the main criticism centered around a proposal to utilize biometric data (facial recognition, and face scanning being one of the ideas), while undermining constitutionally protected freedom of expression by extending its power over regular services that, due to their nature, although not being adult sites, include adult material – such as search engines and social media.

In other words, the bill could end up unmasking pretty much every internet user.

Envisaged fines go from approximately $183,587 (first offense) to $367,175 (each subsequent).

The main goal seems to be to make sure age verification gets implemented. And if that is done – then the “thinking of the children” becomes less important. Namely, if they have age verification, sites and services can argue they are not guilty of breaking any rules since they “believed” somebody was at least 18.

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

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