A Liberal Canadian politician has suggested the banning of “hurtful” language against politicians online. The provision is going to be included in the upcoming internet censorship bill, to be discussed in parliament in the next few weeks.
Steven Guilbeault, a Liberal member of parliament representing the Laurier-Sainte-Marie federal district in Montreal, has been the subject of controversy severally for favoring internet censorship. Now, he is suggesting that the government should ban the use of hurtful language against politicians.
As reported by Blackclock, he discussed the issue in a recent podcast, saying “we have seen too many examples of public officials retreating from public service due to the hateful online content targeted towards themselves.”
“As a dad and a stepdad to six kids, I know more can and should be done to create a safer online environment,” Guilbeault continued.
“What we’re seeing is this dream of this free platform where we could have those open discussions, well that dream for many is turning into a nightmare and people are just simply deciding to take themselves out of that public debate because the conditions under which we’re asking them to participate simply aren’t sustainable,” added Guilbeault. “We know it’s a minority of actors but a very organized, a very loud minority, and something must be done.”
The provision will be part of an upcoming internet censorship bill, which will be discussed in the next few weeks. Legislators are proceeding to discuss the Liberal-led bill regardless of widespread disapproval by many Canadians and negligible public consultations.
Most mainstream social media companies, including Facebook and Twitter, have policies against online harassment and harmful language. However, they make an exception for politicians and other public figures so as to promote debate on issues of public concern.
If the bill passes social media companies will have to remove posts containing “hurtful” words targeted at Canadian politicians. The provision is a danger to free speech not only in Canada but also the rest of the world as other governments might try to get away with similar censorship laws.
Guilbeault, who has previously denied he was working on regulation of online speech, is “confident we can get this adopted.”
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