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Canadian government’s proposed online harms legislation threatens our human rights


The Canadian government is considering new rules to regulate how social media platforms moderate potentially harmful user-generated content. Already, the proposed legislation has been criticized by internet scholars — across the political spectrum — as some of the worst in the world.

Ottawa outlines new legislation to define and crack down on online hate speech

Oddly, the proposed legislation reads like a list of the most widely condemned policy ideas globally. Elsewhere, these ideas have been vigorously protested by human rights organizations and struck down as unconstitutional. No doubt, the federal government’s proposed legislation presents a serious threat to human rights in Canada.

The government’s intentions are noble. The purpose of the legislation is to reduce five types of harmful content online: child sexual exploitation content, terrorist content, content that incites violence, hate speech, and non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

Even though this content is already largely illegal, further reducing its proliferation is a worthy goal. Governments around the world, and particularly in Europe, have introduced legislation to combat these harms. The problem is not the government’s intention. The problem is the government’s solution.

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