By Western Standard

October 30, 2021

-Western Standard


Censorship of legal Internet content is OK provided there’s “proper due process” for Facebook users, bloggers and publishers targeted by complaints, say Liberal MPs.

Blacklock’s Reporter says the cabinet has proposed to appoint a chief censor, the Digital Safety Commissioner, to investigate anonymous complaints over content deemed hurtful.

“An obvious element of any set of public rules is to ensure there is a public process or due process,” said Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches-East York, Ont.), adding: “Fundamentally we need a public due process system to manage take down by large platforms.

“The focus of a Digital Safety Commissioner surely should be twofold,” said Erskine-Smith.

“One, to make sure social media platforms are prioritizing the take down of illegal content within a reasonable period of time, but two, to ensure there’s public accountability in relation to public rules. Organizations like Facebook cannot be solely responsible for enforcing public rules.”

The Department of Canadian Heritage in a July 30 guide outlined the scope of a censorship bill to be introduced in Parliament.

“It would prioritize a safe, open and inclusive Internet where Canadians feel they can express themselves without being victimized or targeted by certain kinds of harmful content,” wrote staff.

A Digital Safety Commissioner would provide “advice on content moderation” and issue compliance orders against Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other service providers under threat of $25 million fines. Censored content was not defined.

Hate speech is already illegal in Canada under 1970 amendments to the Criminal Code.

Anonymous complainants could trigger an investigation over websites deemed to “distort the free exchange of ideas by discrediting or silencing targeted voices” or “threaten national security, the rule of law and democratic institutions,” wrote staff.

The Safety Commissioner would be empowered to block websites or “make the content inaccessible” in Canada.

“The government intends to introduce a bill in the fall of 2021,” said the guide.

Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough-Rouge Park, Ont.) said he endorsed the proposal.

“There needs to be due process,” said Anandasangaree.