Will Canada’s new law regulating online hate speech be derailed by politics?

On Feb. 26, Canada signalled it is done waiting for internet giants and social media companies to protect children from consuming or being victims of harmful online content. Justice minister Arif Virani introduced Bill C-63, which sets up a new Digital Safety Commission to handle these cases and impose multimillion-dollar fines on social media sites for not complying.

For the Jewish community, the new law would also toughen penalties for those who incite hatred, including antisemitism, and promote genocide or Holocaust denial.

It’s a long-awaited piece of legislation for Jewish advocacy groups like CIJA, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal and B’nai Brith: all have been warning about the dangerous explosion of online hate, saying that it could lead to actual terrorism, especially after Oct. 7. But some critics, including the federal Conservatives, fear the new law may go too far in curbing free speech, and have hinted they will vote against it as the proposed law now makes its way through Parliament.

On today’s The CJN Daily, we speak with Bernie Farber, who was one of the consultants hired by the government to shape the new legislation, and with professor Michael Geist, an internet law expert from the University of Ottawa, who sees some red flags.

What we talked about:

  • Read more about the Ottawa teenager charged in December with a terror-related bomb making plot against Canadian Jews, in The CJN
  • Read how Canadian Jewish leaders reacted to the Canadian government’s new Online Harms Bill, in The CJN
  • See the actual Online Harms Act for yourself on the Government of Canada’s website and read the accompanying explanation

 Credits:

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.

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