Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is expected to soon introduce new legislation designed to address online harms through increased regulation. Reports indicate that the bill will target five categories of illegal content: hate speech, terrorist content, content that incites violence, child sexual exploitative content and non-consensual sharing of intimate content. The details will matter, however, as failure to ensure due process for content removal and strict limits on scope will raise constitutionality concerns.
David Kaye is a clinical professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, and served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression from 2014 until 2020. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the challenges associated with balancing regulation and preserving freedom of expression online, the policy considerations that governments should be thinking about, and the risks that arise from getting the balance wrong.
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Last November, then Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains introduced Bill C-11, long overdue privacy reform. The bill appeared to be a top government priority, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasizing that the new law would give Canadians more control over how companies handle their personal information. While the bill isn’t perfect – I wrote posts on some of the benefits and concerns – there was no debating that it represented an important step forward in modernizing Canada’s privacy law.
Yet months after the bill was introduced, it is seemingly going nowhere.
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As the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage continues its study on Bill C-10, it has also received some notable submissions from organizations and experts that raise further questions about the wisdom of the bill. One submission not yet posted (but provided to me with the consent to post) comes from Philip Palmer, former Senior General Counsel with the Department of Justice focused on communications law. Palmer spent decades in government focused on telecommunications and competition law issues. His expert opinion is that Bill C-10 is unconstitutional since on-demand streaming services such as Netflix are not inter-provincial undertakings and therefore are not subject to the federal government’s jurisdiction over broadcasters.
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For years, Canada resisted extending the term of copyright beyond the international standard of life of the author plus 50 years. That appears to have come to an end with the USMCA, which requires an extension. The Canadian government has just launched a public consultation on the issue, identifying several “accompanying measures” to address concerns about the negative impact of term extension. For the many Canadians that participated in the recent copyright review process, the consultation document comes as huge disappointment as it seemingly rejects – with little legal basis – the review’s recommendation on establishing a registration requirement for the additional 20 years that would benefit both creators and the public.
The consultation is currently open until March 12th. Duke University’s Jennifer Jenkins, who is is a Clinical Professor of Law teaching intellectual property and Director of Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, joins the Law Bytes podcast this week to help sort through the likely implications of copyright term extension for Canada.
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Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault seems set to table another bill that would establish Internet content regulations, including requirements for Internet platforms to proactively remove many different forms of content, some illegal and others harmful or possibly even “hurtful.” Few would argue with the proposition that some regulation is needed, but venturing into government regulated takedown requirements of otherwise legal content raises complex questions about how to strike the balance between safeguarding Canadians from online harms and protecting freedom of expression.
Vivek Krishnamurthy, is a colleague at the University of Ottawa, where he is the Samuelson-Gluschko Professor of Law and serves as the director of CIPPIC, the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to talk about the complexities of Internet content regulation and the risks that overbroad rules could stifle expression online and provide a dangerous model for countries less concerned with online civil liberties.
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