July 20, 2024
As has become standard in such cases, the charter contains no definition of what constitutes "hate", making it a catchall for whatever the Canadian government deems politically inopportune.
If Canada's government proves sympathetic to the new recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the prospects for free speech in Canada look increasingly bleak.
If Canada’s government proves sympathetic to the new recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the prospects for free speech in Canada look increasingly bleak.

In May, Canada launched a so-called Digital Charter, meant to promote “trust in a digital world”. The charter contains ten principles, three of which deal with “hate speech and disinformation”.

The charter, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will target fake news and hate speech online. “The platforms are failing their users, and they’re failing our citizens,” he said. “They have to step up in a major way to counter disinformation. And if they don’t, we will hold them to account and there will be meaningful financial consequences.”

“The Government of Canada,” the charter says, “will defend freedom of expression and protect against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions. Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content.”

“There will be clear, meaningful penalties,” it adds, “for violations of the laws and regulations that support these principles.”

As has become standard in such cases, the charter contains no definition of what constitutes “hate”, making it a catchall for whatever the Canadian government deems politically inopportune. This is all exhaustingly familiar by now: Germany already has legislation that requires social media platforms to censor their users. Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online “criminal offenses” within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint; the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law. France is working on it.

[…]

Loading