Share: The Liberals are set to unveil an online harms bill today. Here’s what you need to know

Canadian protections for smear campaigns and cyberbullying are getting closer!! I woke up this morning to find articles like this all over the place and I am very excited to watch the news conference later this afternoon to find out more info.

I am looking forward to this new Bill coming out in April 2024! It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds and what I can utilize for my own personal situation.

CBC News looks at the origins of the bill, the hurdles it has faced in the past and what experts want to see

Peter Zimonjic · CBC News · Posted: Feb 26, 2024 5:30 AM NST | Last Updated: 22 minutes ago

The federal government is introducing its long-awaited online harms legislation today, after its last attempt to tackle online hate died when the 2021 federal election was called.

The text of the legislation has not yet been made available, but its 46-word title indicates that it will involve changes to the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act and laws that make reporting online child pornography mandatory.  

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week the bill is designed to protect children from being subjected to “hatred, to violence, to being bullied and seeing and being affected by terrible things online.”

What do the experts want to see in the bill?

According to the open letter, members of the advisory board want the legislation to contain five key elements:

  • A requirement that digital platforms conduct risk assessments on products used by Canadians and “act responsibly, including by upholding fundamental rights” to protect users from harm.
  • A special duty to protect children from harm.
  • A regulator for online harm with the power to investigate and audit digital platforms, impose fines and prescribe corrective measures.
  • A provision requiring “an avenue to audit and verify” that digital platforms are meeting their obligations under the act by sharing data with researchers.
  • An online forum for victims affected by platforms’ content moderation practices. 

Owen Charters, president and CEO of BGC Canada (formerly Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada), said the new bill must focus on children and accountability.

“Predominantly, what we see is real harms and issues happening for young people,” Charters told CBC News. “It’s a bill that really needs to take that into account and really hold companies accountable for what they have for a long time said is not their responsibility.”

Charters said that if this new legislation does not require reported content to be taken down within 24 hours, it should still require that companies identify harmful content and take it down when they can.

What provisions will the new bill contain?

We won’t know the full details until the bill is introduced in the House of Commons this week. CBC News reported on Monday that the bill will include a new regulator, separate from the CRTC, to hold tech giants accountable for harmful content.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office wouldn’t give details about the bill to CBC News but did say it will focus on protecting children.

Laidlaw said the expectation is that the government will rely less on companies taking down hateful content swiftly and move on preventing it from getting there in the first place.

“The major point that the entire panel agreed on was that the legislation should be built around the idea of a duty to act responsibly … that they sort of have to mitigate the risks of harm,” she said.

Discover more from Stella Reddy's Story

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.