Bill S-210 – the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act – burst onto the public scene late last year as a majority of the House voted for the bill at second reading, sending it to the Public Safety committee for review. The bill, which is the brainchild of Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, was supported by the Conservatives, Bloc and NDP with a smattering of votes from backbench Liberal MPs (the cabinet voted against, signalling it is not supported by the government). The bill raises significant concerns with the prospect of government-backed censorship, mandated age verification to use search engines or social media, and a framework for court-ordered website blocking (I appeared before the Senate committee that studied by the bill in February 2022, arguing that “by bringing together website blocking, face recognition technologies, and stunning overbreadth that would capture numerous mainstream services, the bill isn’t just a slippery slope, it is an avalanche.”).
In response to the public criticism of the bill, Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne has suggested that concerns about it extending to general purpose social media sites is overstated since the intent is to target adult content sites. Yet that is not what the bill provides as it applies to anyone who makes sexually explicit material available on the Internet for commercial purposes: