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Federal legislation targets harmful online content

By Brad Perry Feb 26, 2024 | 7:37 PM

The Trudeau government tabled long-awaited legislation on Monday aimed at combatting harmful content online.

The Online Harms Act would require online platforms to reduce exposure to seven categories of harmful content.

  • Content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor
  • Intimate content posted without consent
  • Content that incites hatred
  • Content that incites violent extremism or terrorism
  • Content that incites violence
  • Content used to bully a child
  • Content that induces a child to harm themselves

Online companies would also be required to quickly remove content that sexually victimizes a child and revictimizes a survivor, and intimate content communicated without consent.

“All of us expect to be safe in our homes, in our neighbourhoods, and in our communities. We should be able to expect the same kind of safety in our online communities,” Justice Minister Arif Virani said during a news conference.

“Bad actors target our most vulnerable: our children. They spread vile hate and encourage impressionable people to commit violence. We know the harms we experience online can have real-world impacts.”

The legislation, also known as Bill C-63, proposes a commission to enforce the bill, and an ombudsperson to support victims.

In addition, it creates a standalone hate crime offence and increases penalties for existing hate propaganda offences.

“Now more than ever, especially given the evolving capabilities of AI, online platforms must take responsibility for addressing harmful content and creating a digital world where everyone can participate safely and freely,” said Virani.