Proposed Bill to address Online Harms

The internet is an exceptional tool for people of all ages to learn, play and connect with family, friends and those with similar interests. However, just like the outside world, the digital world can pose significant dangers. Social media can be used to sexually exploit children, promote self-harm to children, incite violence, put people’s safety at risk and foment hate. Online harms have real-world impacts with tragic, even fatal, consequences.

The Government of Canada has introduced legislation to hold social media platforms accountable for addressing harmful content on their platforms and for creating a safer online space that protects all people in Canada, especially kids.

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About the proposed Online Harms Bill

On February 26, 2024, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-63 to create a new Online Harms Act—a baseline standard for online platforms to keep Canadians safe—to hold online platforms accountable for the content they host. Bill C-63 will create stronger protections for kids online and better safeguard everyone in Canada from online hate. The bill sets out a new vision for safer and more inclusive participation online.

The proposed Online Harms Act would specifically target seven types of harmful content:

Under the Act, social media services would be subject to three duties:

These duties would apply to social media services including livestreaming and user-uploaded adult content services. They would require these services to actively reduce the risk of exposure to harmful content on their services; to provide clear and accessible ways to flag harmful content and block users; to put in place special protections for children; to take action to address child sexual exploitation and the nonconsensual posting of intimate content, including deepfake sexual images; and to publish transparency reports.

The Bill also proposes changes to the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), and An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of internet child pornography by persons who provide an internet service.

The changes to the Criminal Code and CHRA would help to better combat hate speech and hate crimes, provide improved remedies for victims and hold individuals accountable for the hatred they spread. Changes to the Mandatory Reporting Act would support investigations into serious crime related to child pornography.

The Act would establish a Digital Safety Commission of Canada and a Digital Safety Ombudsperson of Canada, supported administratively by a Digital Safety Office. The Commission would oversee and enforce the new regulatory framework and the Ombudsperson would act as a resource and advocate for users and victims.

This Bill is an essential step forward in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Canadians on social media platforms.

Expected outcomes of the proposed legislation

The Online Harms Act aims to hold online platforms accountable for the harmful content they host. It also aims to instill greater transparency around how this harmful content is managed on the service.

All people in Canada would benefit from:

The Bill would give all people in Canada the tools to:

Next Steps

Once Bill C-63 receives Royal Assent, the Governor in Council would work to bring the Act into force, including establishing the necessary regulations. These regulations would provide additional clarity around the application of the Act and set thresholds for scoping in regulated services and for the Administrative Monetary Penalties regime. Concurrently, the Digital Safety Commission of Canada would be set up. This would include the appointments of members of the Commission and the Ombudsperson by the Governor in Council. Once the Commission is established, it would issue regulations on the administration and enforcement of the Act as well as transparency and accountability obligations for regulated services, measures services could adopt to mitigate risk, amounts for regulatory charges and standards and processes for data sharing with researchers.

Engagement and consultations

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