July 6, 2021
A large percentage of Canadians say they’re worried about looming Liberal laws that would censor the Internet, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Internet regulations could have “far-reaching impacts on social media,” a Canadian Internet manager said Monday.
Nearly two-thirds of people surveyed, 62%, worried federal controls will curb “legitimate, lawful speech.”
“Lawmakers should take heed of the feelings of Canadians,” wrote Byron Holland, CEO of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority that manages dot-ca domain names.
“Trust is badly shaken. Canadians are looking to lawmakers to help restore it.”
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s Bill C-10, currently before the Senate, would see YouTube videos intended for private viewing regulated as public broadcasts by the CRTC under threat of $15 million fines.
Bill C-36 introduced June 23 in the Commons would subject bloggers and Facebook users to house arrest or $70,000 fines for content “likely to foment detestation or vilification.”
The Registration Authority in a report said the first attempts at federal regulation are far-reaching.
“With the federal government considering legislation that could have far-reaching impacts on social media, a healthy majority of Canadians agree with the concept of a law that would require platforms to remove illegal or harmful content,” said the report.
“But their attitudes are tempered by concerns about hampering free expression.”
Hate speech is already banned in Canada under 1970 amendments to the Criminal Code. The Registration Authority research found 79% of Internet users surveyed agreed illegal content should be flagged but added: “A majority of Canadians are concerned this could result in the removal of legitimate, lawful speech (62%).”
Close to half of people surveyed, 46%, said they were “concerned this could prevent people from freely expressing themselves online.”
Findings were based on questionnaires with 1,254 people polled nationwide by The Strategic Counsel.
“The question remains whether Canada will commit to a democratic and open Internet that puts people first, or will it put a damper on the greatest transformative economic force of our time?” said the report.
“As Internet regulation looms, public opinion on these issues matters more than ever,” the report added.
Most controversial is website blocking, a measure proposed by Guilbeault, but not yet detailed in legal amendments to the Telecommunications Act.