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New Bill Aims to Crack Down on Online Content That Encourages Hate, Feds Seek Harsh Penalties

The Liberal government is introducing a new bill to address the issues of “online harms” with a focus on protecting children and targeting other harmful content.

This bill proposes adding a new form of hate crime to the Criminal Code, carrying a maximum penalty of life in jail, and offering victims of online “hate speech” compensation up to $20,000.

Preliminary details of this internet legislation were revealed in a technical briefing from Heritage Canada and the Justice Department on Feb. 26.

The bill, known as Bill C-63, outlines seven categories of harmful online content, including protection for children from sexual exploitation, bullying, and self-harm, as well as addressing matters of expression.

These categories involve content that encourages violent extremism or terrorism, incites violence, or promotes hatred. However, specific definitions for these terms were not provided in the briefing.

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The bill also introduces a definition of hatred to section 319 of the Criminal Code to align with Supreme Court decisions and provide clarity on what constitutes hatred.

Section 319 pertains to public incitement of hatred and promotion of hatred and anti-Semitism.

In addition to defining hatred, Bill C-63 proposes a new standalone hate crime offense in the Criminal Code with penalties of up to life imprisonment to deter such conduct.

The bill also raises the maximum penalties for hate propaganda offenses and seeks to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to classify posting “hate speech” online as discrimination.

Victims of hate speech can file complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, with the Tribunal able to adjudicate cases and order removal of the material, with potential compensation of $20,000.

Bill C-63 also establishes a Digital Safety Commission to oversee compliance with the new rules and a Digital Safety Ombudsperson to address complaints from internet users, both appointed by the government.

More updates to follow…

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