Canada’s House of Commons has passed a controversial internet regulation bill which would force websites, including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, to remove content deemed “harmful” within 24 hours, and also compel sites such as Netflix to have more Canadian content.
Bill C-10, known as “An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act,” has drawn fire for its targeting of user-generated content on social media platforms, and made it through the house with 196 votes in favor, and 112 votes against. The bill passed while most Canadians were asleep just after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The bill had the full support of Liberal, NDP, and Bloc Québécois MPs. Only Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) MPs voted against the bill. Two independent MPs also voted against the bill, Derek Sloan, and former Liberal Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.
The bill is now before Canada’s Senate where it has already gone through first reading. Extra calendar days were added to the senate’s schedule to allow debate on it next week.
Bill C-10 was introduced by Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault last year and aims to regulate certain online media services through the creation of a new class of broadcaster called “online undertakings.” This would be done through amendments to Canada’s Broadcasting Act.
If eventually passed by the Senate and given Royal Assent, Bill C-10 would let the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulate the internet and social media in line with their regulations for broadcasting services, with the goal of promoting more Canadian content. The CRTC has kept a hands-off approach to regulating the internet thus far.
According to a National Post report, Bill C-10 is not expected to be rubber-stamped by the Senate, however.
“There doesn’t seem to be any momentum to pass this and rubber-stamp
this without thorough review,” said Conservative Senator Leo Housakos.
CPC leader Erin O’Toole earlier called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to withdraw Bill C-10, and promised if to withdraw the bill should he be elected prime minister.
Recently, CPC MP Rachael Harder said during a Heritage committee meeting that “to put the CRTC in control of such a thing is not only daunting for them, by their own admission, but crazy. Like, it’s just ludicrous. This bill is under the guise of ‘modernizing the Broadcasting Act,’ but the Broadcasting Act actually shouldn’t be applied to the Internet.”
“The Internet is this incredible place that is limitless. So, you don’t actually need the CRTC to step in and pick winners and losers, show favouritism to some and harm others … what’s going on here without that (safeguarding user content) is actually the extreme censorship of material posted online, and therefore an attack on the concept of net neutrality.”
Bill C-10 has also come under fire from the former head of the CRTC, Peter Menzies, who said, “Putting the CRTC in charge of the entire internet, I mean, that’s like putting a logging company in charge of the Great Bear Rainforest … it’s not going to end well.”
The original draft of Bill C-10 had a Section 4.1 exemption clause for “user content” posted on social media by individuals, meaning such posts would originally have not fallen under CRTC regulations.
However, a recent amendment to Bill C-10 removed the provision, which means the federal government could regulate what people post online.
The Liberals, NDP, and Bloc party members also rejected a CPC amendment to Bill C-10, which would have brought back safeguards for user-generated social media content during a clause-by-clause review of Bill C-10 by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
On June 15, the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled that the proposed amendments to Bill C-10 were “null and void,” according to Dr. Michael Geist, law professor at University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law.
However, during late night debate of Bill C-10 Monday, Geist commented on the passing of it that the “Liberal government strategy of multiple gag orders and a ‘super motion’ to limit debate bore fruit last night.”
“The Parliamentary process took hours as the government passed multiple motions to cut short debate, re-inserted amendments that had been previously ruled null and void, and rejected a last-ditch attempt to restore the Section 4.1 safeguards for user generated content,” wrote Geist.
Recently, the Heritage Committee tasked with looking at Bill C-10 put a hold on it until the Department of Justice had time to determine whether or not the recent amendments violate one’s free speech, which are granted in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
After a review, the government said in an explanatory note on the bill that it does not impede Canadians’ freedom of speech when it comes to posts made online.
The passing of Bill C-10 came only a few days before Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti snuck in a “hate speech” bill which, if passed, would allow a tribunal to judge those who are found to be in violation of the new law, simply by someone complaining they are a target of “online” hate.
Bill C-36 was introduced by Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti and is titled “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act and to make related amendments to another Act (hate propaganda, hate crimes and hate speech).” It was officially tabled in the House of Commons Wednesday.
Just recently, Guilbeault said he would soon be introducing new internet “content moderation” legislation to “address categories of online harms” in Canada.
Lametti’s new bill will not proceed far in the House due to the summer break, but most likely will be used by Trudeau as a showpiece form of legislation to campaign on come a possible late summer or fall election.
As for Guilbeault, last year he had to walk back comments after saying the Trudeau government was considering making all news websites and social media platforms have a government license if they wanted to operate in Canada.
Guilbeault clarified that there was “no intention to impose licensing requirements on news organizations.”
MORE INFORMATION –
Canada: Liberals Propose ‘Hate Speech’ Bill with $50,000 Fine, 1 Year Jail
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government proposedlegislation on Wednesday, Bill C-36, that is aimed at combating “hate speech” and “hate propaganda.”
Bill C-36 will “better protect Canadians from hate speech and online harms,” according to a news release from the federal government. The statement includes 33 mentions of the word “hate.”
The bill’s summary includes a proposed legal definition of “hatred” to be included in Canada’s Criminal Code. It defines “hatred” as “the emotion that involves detestation or vilification and that is stronger than dislike or disdain … For greater certainty, the communication of a statement does not incite or promote hatred, for the purposes of this section, solely because it discredits, humiliates, hurts or offends.”
The bill’s text does not specify if or how non-verbal messages such as images or videos would be regulated to control “hate.”
Under a section titled “Fear of hate propaganda offence of hate crime,” Bill C-36 would allow provincial court judges to impose restrictions on those accused by an “informant” of a likely future commission of an offence “on reasonable grounds.” In other words, a judge would be able to issue restrictions against accused parties if the judge believes the accused is likely to commit an offense related to “hate.”
If enacted as law, Bill C-36 would allow a provincial court judge who “satisfied by the evidence” provided by an “informant” against an accused party to order the accused to “enter into a recognizance to keep the peace and be of good behavior for a period of [12 to 24 months].”
Provincial court judges could place accused parties under house arrest by ordering defendants “to return to and remain at their place of residence at specified times.”
Such a “recognizance” would allow provincial court judges to order defendants “to wear an electronic monitoring device” and “to abstain from the consumption of drugs … alcohol or of any other intoxicating substance.”
If ordered to abstain from intoxicating substances, a defendant may be ordered by a provincial court judge to provide blood, urine, saliva, or other bodily substances if “reasonable grounds” exist to believe” the defendant has breached a court order to remain sober.
Bill C-36 would empower provincial court judges to prohibit an accused party from “directly or indirectly” communicating with persons identified in the recognizance as well as denial of “going to any place specified in the recognizance.”
If a complaint against an accused person is “substantiated,” the defendant may be ordered to pay up to $70,000 in penalties divided into two components. The first component would be a payment of “compensation” of up to $20,000 (CAD) “for any pain and suffering that the victim experienced” as a function of “hate propaganda” or “hate speech.” The second component is a fine, up to $50,000 (CAD), paid to the federal government.
Failure to comply with the “recognizance” could result in imprisonment of up to 12 months.
CP24 reported that Bill C-36 would “amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to reinstate an amended version of a controversial section [Section 13] that was repealed in 2013 amid widespread criticism that it violated freedom of speech rights.”
CBC, Canada’s left-wing state broadcaster, relayed the Trudeau government’s description of Bill C-36 at face value. It claimed the bill is “intended to curb online hate speech and make it easier for the victims of hate speech to launch complaints.”
Three Canadian ministers — Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti, Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault, and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair — described Bill C-36 as part of a broader series of laws and policies “to combat hate online and continue to build a more inclusive Canada.”
Trudeau’s government stated, “This proposed legislation takes an important step towards creating a safe online environment that protects all Canadians from hate speech and hate crimes. “