Monday, October 18, 2021

Group calls on government to reconsider its ‘fundamentally flawed’ approach to combating harmful online content

The government’s strategy to regulate the Internet draws criticism into rendering Canada’s legacy

A detailed federal law proposal to tackle harmful online content is not only “fundamentally flawed” but also infringes on Canadians’ freedom of expression and privacy rights, warn internet law experts, who are calling on liberals for their Calling for an overhaul of the approach.

The main problem with the so-called “online harm” proposal lies in its ability to filter content and block websites, which jeopardizes “the existence of a free and open Internet in Canada and beyond”, the Canadian Department of Heritage said in a statement. Submission reads by the Samuelson-Gluschko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law.

“In an effort to combat hate speech and other ills, the proposed legislation threatens the free expression and privacy rights of communities seeking equality,” Yuan Stevens and Vivek Krishnamurthy said in a September 28 submission to the CIPPIC.

CIPPIC is calling on the government to overhaul its approach to regulating online platforms “from the ground up” to address the problems caused by harmful online content.

“The online damages proposal combines some of the worst elements of other laws around the world,” the experts said in their submission.

“We are seriously concerned about several elements of the proposed legislation—such as a lack of adequate transparency requirements, lax requirements for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to obtain basic customer information, the various judicial issues raised by the law, and Should an administrative body like the Digital Records Council be able to determine what speech is legal under Canadian law.”

In July, Canadian Heritage began a public consultation to gather feedback on the proposed legislation, which it said “would be part of an overall strategy to combat hate speech and other harm.”

“The government aims to introduce a new legislative and regulatory framework with rules to make social media platforms and other online services more accountable and transparent in combating harmful online content,” a Canadian Heritage press release on the public consultation announced. which ended on September 25, shortly after the election.

Specifically, the new law will target online posts in five categories: terrorist content, content inciting violence, hate speech, non-consensual sharing of intimate images and child sexual abuse material.

It is one of three pieces of controversial legislation related to Internet regulation drafted by liberals.

Bill C-10, introduced earlier, would require social media platforms and Internet streaming companies to make financial contributions to support Canadian content, and Bill C-36 would require individuals to file complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Will allow if they experience “hate” online. Along with these two proposed laws, the new proposal aims to “counter hate speech and other harm” and will be introduced by liberals upon the resumption of parliament.

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CIPPIC said it explores the scope of the relevant strategy, specifically stipulating that “platforms block illegal content within 24 hours of being flagged, as well as for online service providers to monitor and filter content.” As well as there are alarming requirements to report information on users to law enforcement.”

The group argues that the 24-hour blocking requirement to avoid the risk of liability under the proposed law would lead to an overzealous attitude by social media platforms to remove content – ​​even legitimate content in large quantities. Too.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guillebault speaks to the media in the foyer of the House of Commons on February 3, 2020. (Canadian Press/Adrian Wilde)

‘Massive new bureaucratic super-structure’

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, said in his submission that one of the fundamental problems in the government’s approach is to treat the five categories of harmful content as “equivalent and requiring equal legislative and regulatory feedback.”

“There is no point in equating online hate with child pornography,” he wrote. “By prescribing the same approach for all these types of content, the efficacy of the policy is questioned.”

Geist said the proposed approach “envisions a massive new bureaucratic super-structure to oversee online pitfalls and Internet-based services” that would be cumbersome and could jeopardize due process.

“For example, it is impossible to decide on potentially thousands of material cases and would require large resources with genuine questions about proper oversight. Similarly, the powers associated with the investigation have serious implications for freedom of the press and freedom of expression.” are highly problematic.”

Part of the online harm proposal includes requiring online service providers to report certain types of content to the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. CIPPIC said such reporting, when combined with proactive surveillance, “poses an unacceptable risk to the privacy rights of the Canadian people.”

“Such measures should have no place in the laws of a free and democratic society,” it said.

In a September 25 submission to Canadian Heritage, the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy said the scope of the proposal is “overbroad and inconsistent”, as the five categories of harmful material have little in common. They are illegal.

“In our view, any legislative plan that claims to unite all these different types of material under a single framework is inconsistent, counterproductive and constitutionally unstable,” said Citizen Lab, whose research included encompasses the areas of communication technologies, human rights, and global security.

“Indeed, the categories—constitutively, factually, practically, or morally—unify almost nothing other than a proposed measure of material removal.”

Isaac Teo

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Isaac is a reporter based in Toronto.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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