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Canada’s Heritage Minister says online censorship bill will help free speech

Not an April Fools joke.
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To advise the Heritage Minister on regulating ’s internet, a panel of experts, most of them academics, has been appointed. One of the government’s internet regulation plans, alongside the online censorship bill, is to create a federal internet censorship agency.

When announcing the panel of experts, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said, “We are open to all ideas. The only thing we want is to do the right thing, is to make it right, is to make it happen.”

The minister was asked if it was a priority for the internet censorship bill not to infringe Canadians’ rights. He said that freedom of expression is a fundamental right and is “at the core” of the bill.

“But I’ll tell you something else,” Rodriguez said. “Actually there are a lot of people who don’t want to share what they think anymore, who are afraid of going online to speak freely because of the negative and violent reaction they may get. I think in some ways this will really help freedom of speech.”

Rodriguez said the 12-member panel will meet and recommend regulations within the next two months.

“We will take that information, work on a bill, and table it as soon as possible,” Rodriguez said. He added that “every government’s first priority will always be the safety and the security of Canadians.”

Last July the heritage department recommended the creation of a Digital Safety Commissioner, who would have the authority to take anonymous complaints, conduct closed-door hearings, and send content removal orders.

The department received over 9,000 submissions on the proposal, most of them rejecting the idea.

Rights groups, free speech activists, and even academics have described the proposal as “disturbing.”

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