We welcome the opportunity to provide comments, and recognise the legitimate desire of the government to tackle harmful content online. Many of the proposals put forward in the discussion guide and technical paper are reasonable and sensible. Based on our analysis, however, we believe that particular aspects of the proposal, if taken forward in their current form, may pose risks to individuals’ right to freedom of expression and privacy online and could be inconsistent with Canada’s international human rights obligations.
In our response, we relay our concerns and make a series of recommendations on how the proposal could be revised to mitigate these risks. We believe these considerations and recommendations, if incorporated into the upcoming legislation, will help safeguard freedom of expression and privacy online.
Some of our recommendations to the government include:
- Consider a range of criteria when designating entities in scope to ensure that the scope of entities is devised in a proportionate manner;
- Remove the requirement that entities make determinations on flagged content and remove content identified as illegal within 24 hours;
- Allow for alternative means of addressing the proliferation and removal of harmful content online without resorting to the private adjudication of law enforcement;
- Avoid compelling or incentivising entities to use automated processes to proactively monitor and remove harmful content, and mandate rigorous testing, human oversight, adequate appeals mechanisms and human rights impact assessments wherever automated processes are employed; and
- Exclude requirements to report or hand over user data to law enforcement or intelligence agencies unless the necessity of such obligations can be established for all forms of content and devised in a proportionate manner.
The comments received will be used to inform the development of upcoming legislation. We’ll be following the Bill’s progress closely—sign up to our monthly Digest for regular updates and analysis.