Federal government releases a new report summarizing public consultations on proposed legislation.
Toronto, February 3, 2022 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation welcomes the release of a new report by the federal government that demonstrates significant support towards taking action against the threat of online harms while balancing the need for privacy and freedom of expression.
The report, released earlier today, summarizes over 8,000 submissions and over 420 unique responses provided by individuals and civil society, as well as industry and others. Submissions were made between July of this past year and closed on September 25, 2021.
“What is clear from the summary is that governments have a crucial role to play in ensuring that online spaces become safer,” said Mohammed Hashim, executive director of the CRRF. “That role must be one that is carefully articulated and one which must not permit overreach which could lead to over-policing by social media companies and erode the rights to privacy that people in Canada cherish.”
The summary highlights concerns around a variety of issues, including a suggested 24-hour takedown regime, similar to a law in Germany that has been criticized for over-removals and which could lead to infringements on freedom of expression, including of marginalized communities. Additionally, submissions included reservations about proposed powers for law enforcement agencies that could also lead to the over-policing of certain groups and breach privacy, a concern shared by the CRRF.
However, the report highlighted that some respondents welcomed the government’s proposal to align the definition of hate speech with the Supreme Court of Canada case law which would provide more clarity. Some respondents also pressed the government to move quickly, pointing out that marginalized communities require action as they continue to face irreparable harm with the proliferation of harmful and hateful content.
“We have seen in poll after poll that Canadians are aware of the poisonous presence of hatred on social media platforms and that it must be addressed,” added Hashim. “We urge the federal government to move forward with legislation and to continue to consult with stakeholders and experts. The status quo when it comes to online hate is untenable and has already led to harassment and fear, as well as to the tragic loss of life in Canada and around the world.”
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation was created in 1996 to reaffirm the principles of justice and equality for all in Canada. The mandate of the Foundation is to facilitate throughout Canada the development, sharing, and application of knowledge and expertise to contribute to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society.
Kimberly Bennett, Director of Communications
Canadian Race Relations Foundation
PH: 437 533 1104