Attempts to control internet content brew discontent

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Potential new rules about internet regulation continue to confuse and divide Canadians.

A story in Blacklock’s Reporter claims that Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s office hasn’t received a single email or letter from the public supporting internet regulation. This is offered as some sort of proof that Bills C-10 and C-36 do not sit well with Canadians.

The lack of letters may fly in the face of Guilbeault’s claims that most Canadians would support such regulation, with only “a minority” against it.

He testified in January at the Commons heritage committee that “a high proportion” of Canadians were asking the government to step in.

(How many letters or emails asking the government to do so is not specified in the Blacklock’s story.)

When asked, Guilbeault’s office said it had received 389 letters and emails by April 30, and “has not received any correspondence asking for more internet censorship or regulation.”

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This skirmish over letters stems from the controversy over Bills C-10 and C-36.

Bill C-10 — An Act To Amend The Broadcasting Act, currently before the Senate, hopes to regulate content from streaming services and also social platforms, making tech giants toe the same line in Canada as regular broadcasters do under the CRTC rules.

It’s a matter of promoting Canadian culture, but as Bloomberg News has pointed out, the risk there is undermining individual freedom of expression.

Bill C-36: An Act To Amend The Criminal Code would make it easier to investigate anyone engaging in hate speech that it is feared might lead to violence or discrimination. It is legislation aimed at cracking down on online hate speech — the kind that could lead people to violent behaviour.

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But a recent Leger poll found that 58% of Canadians oppose federal regulation of internet speech. And only 4% strongly agreed with a statement that read, “The government should restrict access to the internet and social media to combat the spread of misinformation.”

  1. Bill C-10, the legislation put forward by the Trudeau Liberals to police the internet, puts most relevant online content under government supervision and regulation.

    GUNTER: Bill C-10 will be creeping censorship

  2. It’s been described as a “full-blown assault” on free expression in Canada by a former commissioner with the CRTC. Frankly, I think that’s putting it mildly. Bill C-10, the legislation put forward by the Trudeau Liberals to police the internet, puts most relevant online content under government supervision and regulation.

    LILLEY: Liberals’ internet censorship bill a troubling power grab

  3. This file photo illustration photo shows a Facebook App logo displayed on a smartphone in Los Angeles, March 1, 2021.

    MALCOLM: Bill C-10 was just the tip of the iceberg

Otherwise, Canadians have not been consulted on the matter of net neutrality, and so arguments rage about curtailing freedom of expression in any conversation about targeting internet sources that promote hatred and discrimination, or stir up violence.

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