Creating a Safe, Inclusive and Open Online Environment
GATINEAU, July 29, 2021
The Government of Canada is committed to taking concrete action to combat serious forms of harmful online content, specifically hate speech, terrorist content, content that incites violence, child sexual exploitation content and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, alongside the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, launched a public consultation on a proposed approach for promoting a safe, inclusive and open online environment. The proposal has been informed by extensive work, led by the government over the last year, on the issue of online harm. It reflects targeted engagement with communities that experience inequitable outcomes or treatment, including victims of hate speech and organizations combatting child sexual exploitation. The proposal also draws on insights from civil society and advocacy groups from across Canada, and on approaches taken by Canada’s international partners.
The government aims to present a new legislative and regulatory framework this fall, with rules to make social media platforms and other online services more accountable and transparent in combatting harmful online content. This framework would also contemplate the role of law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies in addressing the real-world impacts of online harm. These proposals aim to support inclusive online participation and protect public safety, while protecting the freedom of expression and privacy of Canadians online.
Seeking public input on the complex and technical elements of regulating harmful online content is an important step in establishing this framework.
More specifically, the Government’s proposed regulatory framework would:
- Define the types of harmful content to be regulated;
- Establish which entities would be subject to the new rules;
- Set out new rules and obligations for regulated entities; and
- Create new regulatory bodies to administer the new framework.
In the weeks ahead, the government will also hold roundtable discussions to have focused conversations on aspects of the law enforcement and national security proposals. This includes how the regulatory framework can be structured to require the removal of serious forms of harmful online content, facilitate the investigation of potential criminal activity online, and disrupt threats to public safety and national security, all while supporting victims and protecting Canadians’ privacy and Charter rights.
The government welcomes all comments, perspectives and evidence concerning these issues and potential options. Submissions will help inform the upcoming legislation.
Canadians and stakeholders have until September 25 to submit their comments. Click here to participate.
“Canadians are increasingly concerned social media is being used to spread potentially illegal and abusive content such as hate speech and child sexual exploitative content. We need consistent and transparent rules for how online platforms address hate, incitement of violence and harmful online content. This engagement is a crucial step in proposing solutions for a safer and more inclusive online environment where everyone can be heard.”
—The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
“Canadians expect their government to take action against serious forms of harmful content online. We need to create new rules for social media platforms and online services to address harmful online content and hold individuals accountable, while respecting the importance of freedom of expression in a free and democratic society. Along with the recent introduction of Bill C-36, the engagement being launched today will help create an online environment that is safer and more inclusive for all Canadians.”
—The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“We look forward to engaging with Canadians in the weeks ahead to seek their views on how social media platforms and other online services can better address serious forms of harmful content while also protecting fundamental freedoms and human rights. Only by working together can we make Canada a safer place, both online and offline.”
—The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
As part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to better protect Canadians from hate speech and online harm, on June 23, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced Bill C-36, which proposes amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Criminal Code, and related amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act
The definition of harmful content in an upcoming legislative and regulatory proposal would focus on hate speech, child sexual exploitation content, terrorist content, content that incites violence and the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. Details are available in the technical paper.
For more information (media only), please contact:
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
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