After years of campaigning to have a law that limited online hate speech restored, Langley anti-bigotry activist Cran Campbell may be about to get his wish.
Campbell was cautiously optimistic about news the federal government was launching a public consultation process into what was described as a “proposed approach for promoting a safe, inclusive and open online environment” with the goal of bringing in rules this fall to make social media platforms and other online services “more accountable and transparent in combating harmful online content.”
The announcement was made July 29 by Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti.
“Canadians are increasingly concerned social media is being used to spread potentially illegal and abusive content such as hate speech and child sexual exploitative content,” Guilbeault commented.
“We need consistent and transparent rules for how online platforms address hate, incitement of violence and harmful online content.”
Campbell couldn’t agree more.
I think it’s a very good move,” Campbell told the Langley Advance Times.
“It’s beneficial for a lot of people, I would say the majority of people in Canada. I just hope it gets passed before an election is called.”
Campbell has been campaigning for stronger anti-hate laws for years, lobbying for restoration of section 13(1) of the Canada Human Rights Act, which allowed the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to go after online hate propagandists, fining them as much as $10,000.
The law was repealed by the then-Conservative government in 2013 following a ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that the section violated freedom of speech.
The Federal Court of Appeal later declared the section was constitutionally valid and did not violate freedom of expression, but by then, it had been repealed.
Under the proposed new ”online harms” legislation, a digital safety commissioner would enforce regulations that require social media companies to weed out child pornography, terrorist content, hate speech and other harmful posts.
The penalty for violating those laws could be up to five per cent of a platform’s gross global revenue or $25 million, whichever is higher.
The government will consult on its proposed approach over the next eight weeks, before the bill is finalized.
Canadians and stakeholders have until Sept. 6 to submit their comments. Click here to participate.
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