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Canada’s Heritage Minister says internet censorship bill is imminent

A major blow for freedom of expression in Canada.
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Canada’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, a Liberal Party member, said a new internet censorship bill will be tabled within two weeks. To Liberals, the bill will protect Canadians from online abuse – but to those concerned about freedom and civil liberties, it is a law that will have a chilling effect on free speech.

We previously reported details about its inception here.

“My job is to ensure the safety and security of the Canadian population. That’s what I am here for,” said Guilbeault.

He reiterated his previous remarks that the bill would help limit hurtful content online, beyond the current hate speech laws outlined in the Criminal Code. However, he did not provide examples of the hurtful content to be outlawed in the new bill, Blacklock’s Reporter stated.

“Democracy, inclusive and accountable governance, peaceful pluralism and respect for diversity and human rights are core values shared by Canadians,” said Guilbeault.

“Every day Canadians use online platforms to connect with family and friends, stay informed and participate in debates and discussions.

“Hate speech will definitely be part of the legislation that will be tabled, but we also want to encompass other online harms that are taking place.”

The law will require the compliance of online platforms, which will have only a day to remove flagged content.

“With the legislation we will be tabling, it won’t matter whether or not the company is Canadian,” said Guilbeault.

“It won’t matter where the company is registered or where their servers are located. Once a publication is flagged it will have to be taken down within 24 hours of having it being flagged. There are not a lot of countries that are doing that right now.

“I think it’s going to be a really good remedy to a number of problems, but it won’t solve everything. One of the issues I’ve learned, looking at different models, is you shouldn’t try to tackle everything from the get-go.

“Ultimately the goal is to create a safer environment for all people online and not just for a handful.”

Guilbeault and his office are yet to publicly release documents outlining the bill, and so far there have not been consultations with members of the public.

“We haven’t had a public-wide consultation,” said Guilbeault.

“That being said, obviously once the bill is tabled there will be further consultations by a parliamentary committee, and once the bill is adopted – and I’m confident it will – there will be further consultations.

“People will see what will be in the bill once it is tabled.”

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