Posted on July 30, 2021

Ottawa Lays Out Proposal for Digital Safety Watchdogs to Crack Down on Hate Online

Amanda Connolly, Global News, July 29, 2021

As speculation mounts about a possible fall election, the federal government is laying out a proposal for a new digital safety commission that will have the power to regulate hateful content online.

The proposal specifically targets major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pornhub under a new legal category that deems them “online communications service providers” and under the authority of a new Digital Safety Commission.

That would place a new obligation on those providers to remove five categories of hateful content and review complaints within 24 hours. The new regulator would also get a last-ditch power to apply for court orders to have telecommunications companies block access to platforms that persistently refuse to remove child sexual exploitation or terrorist content.


The five categories of harmful content covered under the proposed new powers will draw on offences already defined under the Criminal Code: hate speech, child sexual exploitation content, non-consensual sharing of intimate images, incitement to violence, and terrorist content.

Officials said the definition of hate speech would match that proposed under legislation to amend the Criminal Code which has not yet passed, Bill C-36.

That legislation defines “hatred” as “the emotion that involves detestation or vilification and that is stronger than dislike or disdain” and that is “motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other similar factor.”

That definition specifically excludes content that “discredits, humiliates, hurts or offends.”

Polling done by Ipsos exclusively for Global News last year suggested 88 per cent of Canadians believe more needs to be done to prevent and remove hateful and racist content from social media platforms.

As well, 82 per cent said they believe social media firms should be mandated to inform law enforcement of any posts that spread hate or racism {snip}