Canada’s federal government is considering legislation aimed at cutting down on the proliferation of online hate. Legal experts like MyDefence.ca and activists have been discussing the matter, and there’s no consensus on the matter.
Here’s a look at the bill and what would it be about.
What led to the bill?
In March, New Zealand marked the 2nd anniversary of the Christchurch terrorist attack, which was perpetrated by a radical who’d stream the atrocity on Facebook, where they also posted links to their white supremacist manifesto, neither of which were taken down for a long time.
In Canada, there was a similar spree at a Quebec City Mosque where a radical killed six people while also permanently injuring and disabling others. Said criminal was also referenced by the Christchurch killer, showing how online hate can spread.
Hate continues to fester on the internet, helped by the fact that people are spending more time than ever online due to being stuck at home.
What’s been done?
There’s been some action following these incidents, like the Christchurch Call to Action, which people have stated doesn’t go far enough, due to the fact that it relies on social media platforms to govern themselves.
Canada’s proposed legislation
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault stated this proposed law would lead to regulation, with an overseer and framework to ensure enforcement and punishment.
Illegal content, as per the terms of the bill, would cover five categories:
- Hate speech
- Terrorist content
- Violence-inciting content
- Content that sexually exploiting children
- Non-consensual sharing of intimate content
Parliamentary Secretary Arif Varani saying that the proposed bill will also provide statutory definition of hate dependent on case law, which include the Supreme Court affirmation of the 11 “Hallmarks of Hate”, based on the legal definition from a 2006 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision.
The hallmarks, which legal experts like MyDefence.ca deal with, include, but are not limited to:
- Presenting the targeted group as a major threat to society;
- Using news reports and questionably reputable sources to perpetuate negative stereotypes;
- Portraying the targeted group as dangerous or violent by nature;
- Communicating the idea that the targeted group needs to be banished, segregated, or outright eradicated.