You are currently viewing Decouvrez ce papier : Liberals don’t want to regulate speech with online harms bill, justice minister says

Decouvrez ce papier : Liberals don’t want to regulate speech with online harms bill, justice minister says

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Le papier a été édité à une date mentionnée 2023-12-18 15:37:00.

Canada’s justice minister said he hopes to avoid accusations that the Liberal government is trying to regulate or curb speech with its planed bill to protect people from online harms.

« Where I don’t want this bill to go is down some sort of path where it looks like people are trying to tell you what to think, or how to criticize people, » federal Justice Minister Arif Virani told The Canadian Press in a wide-ranging interview last week.

« That’s absolutely not what we’re talking about. »

His comments come as the government faces mounting pressure to introduce the long-promised legislation following a sharp rise in antisemitism online since the latest Israel-Hamas war began in early October.

Last year, the government sent its initial plans for the bill back to the drawing board in after facing criticism. Virani said he hopes to bring the final bill forward sometime next year.

The group of experts the government tasked with reworking the bill recently published an open letter saying it’s time for the Liberals to bring it forward. They said Canadian children are less protected than kids in countries where similar laws are already in effect.

Virani said the legislation is complicated to develop, and he is hoping to avoid pitfalls regarding free speech that other jurisdictions have seen with similar laws.

A blurred-out computer.
Community groups have asked for online harms legislation in Canada for years, while organizations have expressed concerns about curtailing freedom of speech. (Shutterstock / Empirephotostock)

The Liberals introduced on bill addressing online hate speech shortly before the 2021 election, but it died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau then promised to target terrorist content, hate speech and images of child sexual abuse online with an online harms bill he said he would table within 100 days after the vote.

The Liberals’ proposal prompted concerns about free expression — particularly provisions that would have required digital giants to monitor and take down posts on their online platforms. The government then asked the group of experts to give feedback on a different approach that would make platforms responsible for having systems in place to manage harmful content online.

In the interview, Virani did not divulge specifics about what the Liberals will propose in the bill. But he said Canadians can expect it to target online harms involving children and women, such as the sharing of intimate images without someone’s consent, and interpersonal violence.

« It is definitely also about curbing hatred, » added Virani, who went on to say the Supreme Court of Canada has already provided guidance on what is defined as hatred.

« There’s going to be still a lot of sort of insults and harmful language and offensive language that will continue to exist. Those are what a lot of people call awful but lawful — but that is lawful. »

He said calling for the extermination of a group or the eradication of a people « crosses a threshold and that is already regulated in the physical space. We’re trying to ensure that there would be a response to that in the online space. »

On Monday, Virani posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that online hate can turn into real-life danger and condemned the « recent wave of hate against the Jewish community. »

Over the weekend, the RCMP announced it had arrested and charged a teen in Ottawa with terrorism-related offences that allegedly targeted Jewish people, and warned of a troubling trend in violent extremism among Canadian youth.

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