Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Canadian Legislation

Dangerous & poorly executed laws that restrict freedoms

Canadian flag waving in front of the Parliament Building on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Dangerous Legislation Restricts Online Content

The Liberal government has passed or is working on a series of very dangerous laws that restrict the Internet and appear to be aimed at controlling the news media and the freedom of speech.

While these may not immediately appear to be Internet-related, they affect Canadians' privacy on the Internet. All are poorly written and fail to protect Canadian consumers.

Let's be crystal clear: this government wants to control the internet — and, by extension, control what you read, see, and think online. Their mainstream media mouthpieces are no longer the dominant force they once were, and they know it.

 

And every time they dip their incompetent fingers into the digital pie, they botch it. It's a pattern of failure, a comedy of errors, except there's nothing funny about the stakes here.
Dan Knight
The Online News Act (Bill C-18) was written by and for Canada's largest news publishers — and now YOU are paying the price. After Meta's pullout, not a single new dollar of funding is going their way, while you suffer from MASSIVE online news blocks that might put local news out of business.

 

Bill C-11 (that could STILL give the government control over your feeds) was passed DESPITE the glaring holes that leave it so open to abuse that the government was forced to issue specific instructions to the CRTC to not meddle with user content and respect our choices — instructions that a future government or minister could change at any time!

 

Online Harms legislation…could be the worst yet. Don't forget — the government's first proposal for it was designed by and for CSIS and the RCMP, giving them an unlimited surveillance web over every Canadian on online platforms — and they would have passed it into law, had an overwhelming volume of citizens and experts not spoken up demanding a reconsideration.
OpenMedia

The Erosion of Rights & Freedom of Speech

The government has given us little reason to expect that the rights of Canadian citizens will be respected while enforcing these dangerous pieces of legislation any more than they were respected during their creation.

The rights of citizens are threatened by a new authoritarianism that would be comfortable in China or Russia including the de-banking experienced by those involved with the 2022 Freedom Convoy.

Canadian citizens have seen the erosion of many rights and the masking of government's machinery to obtain the truth.

In Canada, privacy has been used as a shield against accountability. Governments have thwarted FOIA requests.
Journalism Professor Sean Holman

Government Acts Slowly, Except When it Doesn't

One of the issues is that the world is moving forward at the speed of the Internet while government acts at the same speed it did in the past — except when it wants to get sneaky legislation passed before the public can react.

By its nature, statutory law lags behind technological progress.

 

The process of passing a law is time-consuming in itself, but it does not even begin until someone recognizes a problem that needs to be addressed.

 

Once the problem is recognized, it must be defined in a way that legislators can understand, and consensus must be reached as to how to address the problem. This can be a lengthy process.
Max Stul Oppenheimer

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Bill C-63

An Act to enact the Online Harms Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act and An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts
Bill C-63

Redefining Hate Crimes

Why are the Liberals restoring amendments that restrict free speech by Canadians in a manner that will allow them to redefine hate crimes? When an out-of-control leftist government (essentially a dictatorship) wants to curb free speech, you are on dangerous ground given how they've ignored months of militant Palestinian protests calling for genocide (“from the river to the sea”) yet continue to prosecute the Trucker Convoy.

Bill C-63 doesn't just flirt with authoritarianism; it's a full-blown courtship, and it's dressed up in the finery of "progressive" values. This bill is about establishing the Digital Safety Commission of Canada — essentially, the thought police of the digital age.

 

And let me tell you, nothing quite spells "independent" like a government-appointed bureaucracy, their pockets lined with the potential for bonuses, all for toeing the line of those wielding the gavel.
Dan Knight
The justice minister of Canada has framed these amendments as a way to protect the vulnerable and hold individuals accountable for spreading hatred online. But let's be clear: there's a thin line between protecting individuals and infringing upon free speech. And that line is looking blurrier by the day in Canada.

 

Critics, including the Opposition Conservatives, have voiced concerns that these measures could curb freedom of speech and be difficult to enforce. They argue that the government's efforts might not just be about protecting citizens but could veer into controlling what can and cannot be said online.

 

And when the government starts deciding what constitutes "hate speech," you have to start wondering: Who gets to draw that line? And based on what standards?
Dan Knight

The Government is Inconsistent

This government passed Islamophobia legislation but ignored the fact that over 100 Christian churches were burned down across Canada. It allowed the open spread of antisemitism within the Muslim community officially standing with Hamas following the brutal October 7th massacre in Israel.

The question, as Europe has discovered, is whether law enforcement and political resolve will be sufficient to stuff an angry, Judeophobic genie back into a bottle most western governments blithely uncorked through their infatuation with multiculturalism, or in Quebec's case fixation on language, both of which, alas, necessitated a self-destructive indifference to the epidemiology of terrorism.
National Post

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Bill S-210: Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act

An Act to restrict young persons' online access to sexually explicit material.

This enactment makes it an offence for organizations to make sexually explicit material available to young persons on the Internet.

 

It also enables a designated enforcement authority to take steps to prevent sexually explicit material from being made available to young persons on the Internet in Canada.
Government of Canada

Michael Geist labelled Bill S-210 as “the most dangerous Canadian Internet bill you've never heard of.” It was being discussed when the rest of us were preparing for Christmas and New Years.

This private members bill sounds innocent enough, but it will be difficult to enforce without jeopardizing our privacy and security.

But given a bill that envisions government-backed censorship, mandates age verification to use search engines or social media sites, and creates a framework for court-ordered website blocking, there is a need to pay attention.

 

Bill S-210, or the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act, was passed by the Senate in April after Senators were reluctant to reject a bill framed as protecting children from online harm.

 

The same scenario appears to be playing out in the House of Commons….
Michael Geist
This is an absolute privacy nightmare.

 

While he bill pretends to shield privacy, there is no penalties for failure to comply with the destruction of said personal information. All it does is ask, pretty please, delete the sensitive information, and leave it at that.

 

There's data brokers out there buying and selling silos of this kind of information for thousands, if not, millions of dollars. Given that Canada's privacy laws are simply the Privacy Commissioner sending strongly worded letters, there's no incentive to really comply with the destruction of records. The only incentive is to collect said information.
Freezenet

What's wrong with Bill S-210? An OpenMedia FAQ.

 

Tell your MP: Don't padlock the Internet!

The House of Commons is currently debating Bill S-210, a dangerously broad age verification bill that would put an age lock on most of the Internet and threaten every Canadian's privacy.

 

Bill S-210 is supposed to be about keeping young people from seeing adult content — but it doesn't say anything about how much of that content needs to be accessed through a service for it to be included, or even whether the platform has to know the content is there.

 

Any commercial organization that's used to access explicit content is included — which would mean age and ID gating the services you use every day like Reddit, Instagram, and even Google search.

 

There's no guidance in Bill S-210 about what kind of age verification is ok and what's off limits, meaning that you could be forced by some services to upload your photo ID, scan your face, or even grant access to your social media accounts.

 

That's creating highly sensitive records of your activities all over the Internet linked directly to your real identity, and S-210's only protection for you is asking thousands of websites nicely to try and delete those records when they're done. Nobody in Canada should have to live with this, and the risks for all of us, including disproportionate risks for LGBTQ+ Canadians, are obvious.

 

To enforce compliance, Bill S-210 proposes mass website blocking for sites and services that don't comply. That's a crude tool, and likely to censor far more content than just adult material — and Bill S-210 acknowledges that, saying (in Section 9.5) that's perfectly ok!

 

From France to Australia, when other countries have studied age verification methods, they've concluded the current crop of technology isn't good enough to protect their citizens' fundamental rights and privacy.

 

Need a deeper read first to make up your mind? Check out our S-210 FAQ!
OpenMedia

Tell your MP: Don't padlock the Internet!

Broad Legal Definitions

A Senate public bill that would prevent youth from accessing explicit material online is overbroad and poses risks to privacy, say critics. It would also force internet service providers (ISPs) into a role they are not suited for.
Canadian Bar Association's National Magazine

Bill S-210 sets a dangerous precedent of requiring approved identity to enable visiting websites that are legally so broad that they could easily be interpreted to mean virtually any website. Think of YouTube, Facebook, Reddit and many others that could fall under the loose definitions used in this bill.

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.").

 

There is no threshold or limit in the law that would exclude sites that may make available some sexually explicit material, but are primarily focused on other content.
Michael Geist

I strongly recommend that you watch Ian Runkle's legal analysis of Bill S-210 on YouTube. It provides a candid look at these issues.

“Protecting Children” a Red Herring

Labelling the bill as “protecting children” has made it political suicide to oppose this bill even though its mandate will certainly extend far beyond its stated purpose.

The protection of children has been used in the United States and elsewhere to promote otherwise difficult legislative targets, including proposed legislation banning encryption. (How'd you like to perform bank transactions or shop online without encryption?)

Why doesn't the bill address this sort of woke agenda school boards are bringing into elementary schools? Apparently grade 6 is the time to discuss sexual acts in detail, but don't let them see it on the Internet:

A 'sexual health educator' from Saleema Noon came to my daughter's Grade 6 class this week.

 

She taught the 11 and 12-year-olds that sometimes children aren't happy with the bodies they're born with, so they can change them!

 

Imagine telling kids they can change their bodies if they hate themselves. That's the message the kids hear.

 

They also learned about anal and oral sex, and how gender is 'assigned at birth' but sometimes they figure it out later.

 

The school then had an assembly on Friday for all kids in Grades 4 - 7, where a trans-identified female came to speak to them.
Billboard Chris

Digital IDs Required

Bill S-210 will require government-approved identification to even visit such sites.

The problem is the inability to create an effective identification of legal adults without either compromising privacy or excluding those without such ID.

By mandating government-issued identification means that for all intents you'll have to expose yourself to identity theft in order to visit many websites in Canada. You may not know who owns the sites you visit, but they'll know you.

Bill S-210 goes well beyond personal choices to limit underage access to sexually explicit material on Canadian sites.

 

Instead, it envisions government-enforced global website liability for failure to block underage access, backed by website blocking and mandated age verification systems that are likely to include face recognition technologies.
Michael Geist
[Bill S-210] would require adult websites to verify users' ages, but does not specify how. Options could include a digital ID system or services that can estimate age based on a webcam scan of a user's face.
The Globe and Mail

Privacy Threatened

At the very least, your privacy is threatened — enabling the government tracking of every webpage you visit, just like in China.

Privacy is about government not being able to see what citizens are doing.
Journalism Professor Sean Holman

It could also be used to push through the universal electronic ID proposed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to be used as a tool to control citizens. When combined with a digital currency, any hint of privacy would be gone and governments would be handed massive powers over bank accounts and the ability to significantly restrict freedoms.

Look at the government's actions during the 2022 Freedom Convoy were the Emergencies Act was used to lock people up. The government froze the bank accounts of citizens for providing a small donation (it never returned that money).

The courts deemed the government's use of the Emergencies Act illegal in 2024. The government is already appealing that decision while taking no action against violent masked pro-Palestinian protesters that continue to block streets across the country.

Privacy Already Compromised

The surveillance economy has corporations cull huge amounts of metadata for targeted advertising (often collected “just in case” it can be used later). Serious data breaches already threaten our privacy and security.

Tying metadata to a digital ID would remove any hint of privacy and provide a bonanza for corporate and government spying.

Every site that you visit, every comment you make online, every link that you click would become traceable.

If we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold, or even leaked in the event of a hack, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human. We deserve better. You deserve better.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook

Blocking Internet

The penalties in the proposed legislation include the ability to permanently deny access to the Internet. This act of an authoritarian government and mirrors WEF proposals for digital IDs and carbon quotas.

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Cybersecurity Bill C-26

An Act respecting cyber security, amending the Telecommunications Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts
Bill C-26

While the intention of Bill C-26 is probably critical to protecting the security of Canada, the use of secrecy and non-transparency place both the Canadian public and telecommunications agencies at risk.

Cybersecurity cannot thrive on secretive and shadowy government edicts. The government must amend its legislation to ensure its activities comport with Canada's democratic values and the norms of transparency and accountability.
The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto's Munk School

Tell your MP: no spying wishlist!

As written, Bill C-26 is designed as the government's spying wishlist. Canadians deserve better than this half-baked legislation.
— OpenMedia

MPs are debating key provisions in cybersecurity bill C-26. Unless ordinary people like you speak up and demand rights-respecting amendments – C-26 is going to be drowned out by a partisan tug-a-war between parties.

We need as many people as possible emailing their MPs from across political parties. Share this campaign with everyone you know.

Cybersecurity Bill C-26 claims to improve our safety — but lacks ANY of the public transparency and safeguards we depend on to protect our fundamental rights.

 

People in Canada shouldn't have to sacrifice our fundamental rights for the strong cybersecurity protections that we deserve. Email your MP to fix C-26 with appropriate, rights-protecting amendments.
— OpenMedia

Tell your MP: no spying wishlist!

Cybersecurity Bill C-26 claims to improve our safety — but lacks ANY of the public transparency and safeguards we depend on to protect our rights.

New cybersecurity protections are needed to protect Canada's critical infrastructure — but must be balanced with appropriate safeguards to prevent their abuse and misuse. We rely on access to essential services, like the Internet, to participate in democratic life; Canada can't afford prolonged attacks or Internet outages. While the new cybersecurity elements of Bill C-26 are designed to safeguard essential services better – like our access to the Internet – as drafted, they lack crucial provisions that promote public transparency, accountability, and oversight. To give a few examples:

 

  • Bill C-26 empowers the executive branch of the Canadian government to permanently disconnect anyone in Canada from the Internet — in complete secrecy! This sweeping new power will allow a cabinet minister to issue a secret order to any Internet Service Provider (ISP) to permanently disconnect anyone in Canada from accessing the Internet if they believe they are connected to cybersecurity issues. The catch? Because of how modern botnets work, there's a very real risk that any of us could be secretly and indefinitely disconnected from the Internet because, unknown to us, one of our devices has been compromised.
  • Bill C-26 forces ISPs into new information-sharing arrangements with Canada's spy agencies. Currently, Canada's spy agencies are limited in how they access the sensitive, private information of people in Canada; judicial oversight is required before ISPs respond to lawful access requests for things like records related to our use of the Internet. Bill C-26 radically changes that, allowing for Canada's spy agencies to permanently implant themselves within our telecommunications infrastructure, hoovering up as much of our sensitive data as they can, and sharing it with their five-eyes spying partners around the world.
  • Power left in the dark often goes wrong. Unlike the hard-fought-for safeguards we've built into the rest of our justice and security system, Bill C-26 has no mandatory public disclosure requirements, and no requirement to assess whether steps taken have undue privacy or equity impacts for Canadians. While there is an understandable need for some degree of confidentiality in this sphere, the public needs to have a sense of how these powers are being exercised, how often, and to what effect — if decision-makers are to be held to account.
There's no reason why we can't have cybersecurity protections alongside the essential privacy and due process protections that allow us to participate in democratic life.

 

As currently written, Bill C-26 strikes the wrong balance, granting overly broad powers to the executive branch of the Canadian government without the necessary accountability, transparency, and oversight mechanisms that are required to protect our fundamental rights.
OpenMedia

Tell your MP: no spying wishlist!

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Bill C-27: Consumer Privacy Protection Act

An Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts. Short title: Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2022
Bill C-27

While legislation related to consumer privacy seems an outlier in a discussion about Internet legislation, Bill C-27 will affect the future of the Internet in Canada because it is very difficult to separate the issues of consumer privacy, personal information and data, never mind artificial intelligence which is being embedded into both the software and online services faster than most people comprehend, including legislators.

Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2022, is an attempt to update the privacy laws in Canada including replacing current protections. It would repeal Part 1 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA), the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act (PIDPTA) and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA).

Make Our Privacy Laws Work for You

 

21st century government privacy laws now! Sign the petition.

 

When it comes to privacy, Canada's government doesn't want to play by the rules. They're passing private sector privacy reform Bill C-27, but totally ignoring urgently needed reforms to the Privacy Act — the rules that govern how THEY respect our privacy!

 

In the meantime, we're suffering careless data breaches and shady information sharing from one public agency after another, because they know our privacy laws won't penalize their mistakes.

 

In today's digital age, personal information is collected, shared, and used as currency – by companies AND by governments. Now more than ever it's important that our laws keep up to protect us from changing technology. Tell our government: it's time to update and strengthen the Privacy Act so our laws start defending us from THEM.
OpenMedia

Sign the petition and demand meaningful reforms to the Privacy Act NOW!

Pending Bill C-27 Privacy Legislation Flawed

Have you ever wondered what a privacy bill would look like if it were written by industry and business groups who profit from the exploitation of our personal data? We're getting an idea from some of the incredibly destructive provisions in Bill C-27.
OpenMedia

Attempts at new privacy legislation demonstrates how little our MPs and MLAs understand the concepts of privacy. Privacy by design is the gold standard, but exploiting personal data is more profitable to corporations. Good intent is assumed, but looser legislation is easier to abide by.

If we were to give Bill C-27's CPPA and PIDTA a grade, it'd be a D. This is legislation that does the absolute bare minimum for privacy protections in Canada, and in some cases it will make things actually worse.

 

If they were proposed and passed a decade ago, we might have rated it higher. However, looking ahead at predictable movement in data practices over the next ten — or even twenty — years, these laws will be out of date the moment they are passed, and leave people in Canada vulnerable to a wide range of predatory data practices.
OpenMedia

While working on revisions for Canada's privacy laws, industry concerns were addressed rather than those of citizens or privacy advocates. That's like letting the fox design henhouse security.

Currently, companies that operate in Canada don't face significant repercussions for breaking our privacy laws. When fines for privacy violations were introduced in the European Union under their General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), companies began adjusting their business practices in order to comply with the new laws, and to avoid the potential fines.

 

But can we expect the same thing to happen in Canada? Maybe not. Canada's Bill C-27 will introduce weaker privacy protections than the EU's GDPR…and the fines will be watered down through the creation of a new tribunal slowing down the whole process.
OpenMedia
The predecessor to Bill C-27…was condemned by former privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien as a “step backward” for privacy in Canada. Bill C-27 contains improvements…the government has listened to some concerns. However, it has clearly listened more to the concerns of industry. Human rights still take a back seat to commercial interests.

 

Privacy by design and by default are absent from the bill, which still does not cover the growing exploitation of personal data by political parties.

 

The exception for use of personal information without knowledge or consent for “socially beneficially purposes” still has major holes and scant attention is paid to the flows of personal data across Canada's borders.
Toronto Star

The Privacy Commissioner then offered some encouragement and suggestions for improvement.

The OPC is encouraged by the introduction of Bill C-27 which is a recognition by the Government that Canadians need and expect modernized privacy laws that support innovation and enable Canadians to enjoy the many benefits of technology with the reassurance that their personal information will be protected.

 

Canadians should not have to choose between their participation in the digital economy and their fundamental rights.
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

The Privacy Commissioner then offered 15 recommendations to improve the protections to consumers offered by Bill C-27 in an email to the chair of the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology dated April 26, 2023:

  1. Recognize privacy as a fundamental right.
  2. Protect children's privacy and the best interests of the child.
  3. Limit organizations' collection, use and disclosure of personal information to specific and explicit purposes that take into account the relevant context.
  4. Expand the list of violations qualifying for financial penalties to include, at a minimum, appropriate purposes violations.
  5. Provide a right to disposal of personal information even when a retention policy is in place.
  6. Create a culture of privacy by requiring organizations to build privacy into the design of products and services and to conduct privacy impact assessments for high-risk initiatives.
  7. Strengthen the framework for de-identified and anonymized information.
  8. Require organizations to explain, on request, all predictions, recommendations, decisions and profiling made using automated decision systems.
  9. Limit the government's ability to make exceptions to the law by way of regulations.
  10. Provide that the exception for disclosure of personal information without consent for research purposes only applies to scholarly research.
  11. Allow individuals to use authorized representatives to help advance their privacy rights.
  12. Provide greater flexibility in the use of voluntary compliance agreements to help resolve matters without the need for more adversarial processes.
  13. Make the complaints process more expeditious and economical by streamlining the review of the Commissioner's decisions.
  14. Amend timelines to ensure that the privacy protection regime is accessible and effective.

Artificial Intelligence and Data Act

Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA) was added to Bill C-27, the Consumer Privacy Protection Act.

The urgency was prompted by the speed at which AI is developing and becoming embedded into our systems without regulatory oversight. Companies like Microsoft and Meta have changed their agreements to protect themselves while scooping material to train their AI which leave consumers without protection if their data is misused.

However, not only was it bad to embed AI into pending consumer protection legislation, but the government seems to have once again listened to the demands of industry and ignored the recommendations of individuals and citizen-based privacy organizations. Like so many issues, the government seems determined to ignore public concerns.

There are significant issues with the 38 pages of last-minute changes to the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA) released AFTER the public consultations were completed.

[O]ver 25 leading civil society organizations, experts, and academics released an open letter to the House of Commons Industry Committee, urging them to hit the reset button and fully scrutinize the government's controversial Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA).

 

They recommend a full public consultation and redrafting of AIDA, starting with splitting AIDA from the other parts of Bill C-27, which deal with unrelated privacy matters, so that it can be subject to the careful democratic scrutiny it requires.

 

Highlighting what they describe as ISED's mishandling of "a process biased heavily toward narrow industry interests", the signatories call on MPs to ensure that any future public consultation is not stewarded exclusively by ISED.

 

The call comes two weeks after Industry, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Minister François-Philippe Champagne published a beefy, 38-page package of proposed amendments to AIDA, rivaling in size the text of the original bill, and fundamentally altering its shape and implications.
OpenMedia

Get loud: Email your MP to fix C-27!

AI regulation is not a simple process. Hurrying it through in the manner the Canadian government did is a red flag. Here's what OpenMedia says:

The government is currently debating Bill C-27 — a privacy reform bill that's somehow ALSO Canada's first AI regulatory bill — and might be our only AI regulation for YEARS!

 

Why the rush? Industry wants free rein to experiment with AI on us, right NOW. They're pressuring the government to pass a half-finished bill — NOT to take their time to hear from ALL Canadians and thoroughly protect our rights.

 

Regulating AI RIGHT is more important than rushing this bill through.

 

Why do we have two monumental pieces of legislation baked into one bill? Good question, one without a clear answer from our government.

 

The sneaky, secret reason? Since ChatGPT, Dall-E and all the other 'generative' AI techs started rolling out, AI industry stakeholders in Canada are demanding a loose bill with a light touch. The goal? Not so much regulating AI well; instead, they want plenty of legally permitted room to experiment on Canadians, our data, and our rights.

What's wrong with the AI rules in C-27?

The AI rules in C-27 simply aren't doing the job. We need vague definitions clarified and loopholes closed if they're ACTUALLY going to protect us from AI surveillance and manipulation in the years ahead.

 

Ideally, our legislators would pause and give these rules a thorough public hearing BEFORE passing them into law, with comprehensive protections. At minimum, they need to do their best to clean the AI rules in C-27 up before it passes, make sure they're as strong and specific as possible, and that they can be rapidly improved by an independent regulator as we learn more about where they work — and where they don't.

 

AI is going to keep developing for the good and for the bad. Our laws can help nudge developers towards socially beneficial, user-centered AI — AI that serves us, respects our choices, and makes our lives better.

 

But unless our laws are seriously updated with ironclad, unbreakable protections in place — a LOT could go wrong. Flimsy legislation will not protect us against the potential harms it can have. Either the government goes big or goes home.

Email your MP and tell them to give AI regulation the full study it deserves!

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Bill C-51: The Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015

An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act.

Bill C-51 Should Be Repealed, Not Amended

Trudeau promised to amend the controversial and Draconian anti-terrorist Bill C-51.

Trudeau vowed to amend the "problematic elements" of the law, rather than simply repeal the legislation, noted Snowden. "Because he's afraid of being politically attacked on the basis of being soft on terrorism, regardless of whether or not this law actually helps prevent any terrorist attacks," he said. "This is just the way the politics of fear work."
Edward Snowden

Criticisms

The Bill makes 6 broad changes to national security, anti-terrorism, and privacy law:
  1. It creates a new terrorism offence that criminalizes knowingly advocating or promoting "terrorism offences in general" while aware of the possibility that someone else "may" commit such an offence;
  2. It allows the preventive arrest and detention of a person if it is "likely" to prevent a terrorist activity that a "peace officer" reasonably believes "may" be carried out;
  3. It creates the new concept of "terrorist propaganda" and allows a judge to order the deletion of such material from the internet;
  4. It gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) the power to take measures to reduce "threats to the security of Canada", even if doing so would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the "Charter") or other Canadian law;
  5. It allows government institutions to share information with each other about "activities that undermine the security of Canada"; and
  6. It codifies the Minister's ability to put Canadians on a "no-fly list".
  7. CCLA

The CCLA examination of Bill C-51 has other more specific concerns:

  • Free speech will be "chilled" because the offence is vague and overbroad.
  • The offence undermines anti-terrorism efforts.
  • The offence is unnecessary.
  • The offence applies to private conversations and may lead to increased surveillance.
  • There is a low standard for using preventive powers and an extended period of preventive detention.
  • A low standard for preventive powers may lead to religious and ethnic profiling.
  • The definition of terrorist propaganda is too broad because it references the new vague and overbroad speech offence.
  • Without an effective and independent self-initiated review body, judicial oversight in the Bill may be circumvented.
  • Customs officials may have difficulty understanding what material should be seized as terrorist propaganda.
  • The Bill radically and unnecessarily changes the nature of CSIS without changing its broad mandate.
  • CSIS.s power to "reduce" threats is too broad and may lead to countless Charter violations.
  • The new warrant procedure fundamentally misunderstands the Canadian constitutional system by allowing judges to pre-authorize violations of any Charter right.
  • There will be very little, if any, effective defence of the rights of people affected by warrants because the proceedings are secret.
  • CSIS.s new powers may make terrorism prosecutions more difficult or even impossible.
  • Oversight and review mechanisms do not accompany the significant increase in CSIS.s powers.
  • Allowing government institutions to share information about "activities that undermine the security of Canada" is a very broad standard and a radical departure from conventional understandings of privacy.
  • There are no internal or external safeguards to ensure reliability and proper relevance of the information that is shared, which may seriously endanger or cause major difficulties for Canadians.
  • The secretive process, lack of independent review, and government immunity from civil liability may lead to unfettered information sharing.
  • There is a very low standard to be put on the no-fly list but a high standard to be taken off.
  • The procedure for appealing the Minister.s decisions violates a Charter right.
  • CCLA

I strongly recommend reading the entire Understanding Bill C-51 in Canada: The Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 to understand these criticisms in context.

Provisions Unrelated to Terrorism

A number of the provisions of Bill C-51 are clearly obsolete or otherwise don't belong in a bill aimed at fighting terrorism because they apply to common criminal activity rather than terrorism or a threat to national security.

Provisions that have been found to be unconstitutional by the courts should no longer be enforced. However, they remain in the Criminal Code until Parliament amends or repeals them. This legislation promotes clarity in the law and would help to avoid confusion and errors by ensuring that the laws on paper reflect the laws in force.

 

Repealing provisions that are very similar to those found unconstitutional by the courts would help to avoid expensive, time-consuming litigation to achieve the same result and may prevent court delays. It recognizes the Government's responsibility for aligning the law with the requirements of the Charter.
Department of Justice

The government's continued attacks on legitimate gun owners (farmers and hunters) while simultaneously ignoring the use of illegal weapons by criminals (Canada's “catch-and-release” justice) is concerning.

Mohammed Majidpour of Vancouver had been convicted 30 times for such offences as assault with a weapon and uttering threats but was still released on bail when arrested for assaulting a woman with a pole in September 2022. He's been released and arrested several times since. This guy gets out before the arresting officer finishes typing the report.
National Post

The undeniable conclusion is that criminal attacks on civilians are not the reason for gun control. Rather, it is the protection of the political class.

Obsolete & Irrelevant Laws

The proposed legislation would repeal several Criminal Code offences that were enacted many years ago, but that are no longer relevant or required today, including:
  • Challenging someone to a duel (section 71);
  • Advertising a reward for the return of stolen property “no questions asked” (section 143);
  • Possessing, printing, distributing or publishing crime comics (paragraph 163(1)(b));
  • Publishing blasphemous libel(section 296);
  • Fraudulently pretending to practise witchcraft (section 365); and,
  • Issuing trading stamps (section 427).

The proposed legislation would also repeal other offences that are needlessly specific and deal with conduct that, if necessary, could be addressed effectively by other Criminal Code provisions. For example, the following offences would be repealed because the conduct they target could be addressed using other fraud provisions:

  • Impersonating someone during a university exam (section 404); and,
  • Falsely representing goods as having been made by a person holding a royal warrant (section 413).
  • Department of Justice

Learning More

Learn more about the need to repeal Bill C-51 including issues related to unregulated surveillance.

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Bill C-11: Online Streaming Act

Bill C-11: An Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Bill C-11, also known as the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020, would repeal parts of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and replace them with a new legislative regime governing the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information for commercial activity in Canada. As the core of this regime, the Consumer Privacy Protection Act would be enacted to maintain, modernize, and extend existing rules and to impose new rules on private sector organizations for the protection of personal information.
Government of Canada

Bill C-11 & C-11 Unfair and Poorly Executed

Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 were poorly executed attempts at government control of the Internet that failed to fix the issues which they claimed to address.

In less than two months, the government has reshaped the Internet in Canada with Bills C-11 and C-18 leading to streaming services that may block Canadian users and platforms that may block news sharing. The result is a cautionary tale for Internet regulation initiatives with Canada emerging as a model for how things can go badly wrong.
Michael Geist

Not only did Bill C-18 fail to protect local news, but Canadian news has all but disappeared from social media while most of the promised funding has dried up. Now we're seeing massive layoffs.

Instead of admitting defeat, the Liberal government funded Canada's big media companies, effectively destroying any hint of investigative journalism as well as Canadians' trust in both the government and the media.

Bill C-11 became law on April 27, 2023 without key amendments that would protect your posts and feeds from being regulated by the CRTC.

On April 27, 2023, Bill C-11 passed the Senate, as fundamentally broken as it was when it first left the House. Despite opposition from over 100,000 Canadians, the bill was passed without crucial amendments that would have protected user-generated content and online choices.
OpenMedia

C-11 Controls What You Watch

The government told Canadians that it wanted to grab control back from big foreign Internet companies. Instead, Bill C-11 gives that control to the CRTC.

Bill C-11 will meddle with Canadians' ability to pick their own content and content creators' business, in the name of "protecting the economic interests of a niche of Canada's music and video industries," according to the Canadian arm of the Internet Society.

 

In a scathing submission, the non-profit group argues that "Bill C-11 seeks to turn the Internet into a mere extension of the Canadian broadcasting system — a dying artifact of 20th Century technologies."
The Globe and Mail

The unfair CanCon rules will be applied to the Internet and allow the industry-friendly CRTC to determine what Canadians see and hear, removing choice for consumers.

The CRTC still can ask platforms for an end result, meaning it will still be in the business of picking winners who get promoted and losers whose content is downranked and hidden on online feeds.

 

Unless and until CanCon definitions are thoroughly revised, this will mean upvoting the narrow range of legacy media content to the top of our feeds over other content we actually like.
OpenMedia

This will have an adverse affect on Canadian content worldwide, ignoring or imperiling international copyright and other agreements.

Our Freedom of Choice Denied

We should be deciding what we watch and listen to online, not our government.

First, after assuring Canadians for months that the bill did not regulate user content or that algorithmic regulations were excluded, the draft policy direction confirms that this was false.

 

Second, many of the policies are still wide open.
Michael Geist
While protection of our feeds and content in the law would have been better than a revocable policy direction, some protection is much better than no protection at all.
OpenMedia

Bill C-11 Ignores the Nature of the Internet

Bill C-11 seeks to mandate changes to streaming platforms' algorithms so that specific Canadian content rises to the top of our feeds.

Fixed timetables can NEVER compete with the ability to choose your program and its viewing time nor allow bing-watching of a series (with the exception of promotional periods when specialty channels run large blocks of one program to entice guest users to purchase the channel).

It ignores the fact that, unlike cable TV, everyone could simultaneously watch different content on an open Internet. Instead, it chose to censor the Internet.

CanCon Imposed on the Internet

Bill C-11 legislated that the CRTC would rule over what online material counts as “official” Canadian Content (widely referred to as CanCon) on almost all online services.

Unfortunately, the only beneficiaries of Bill C-11 are going to the big Canadian media companies (Bell, Rogers and Telus) that already get the lion's share of CanCon money.

This legislation ignores current and historic contributions by Netflix and other online streaming options.

Under Bill C-11, streaming companies like Netflix will also be forced to pay to produce CanCon — but will be ineligible to receive funding from the Canadian Media Fund, even when producing Canadian content.

 

Result? A direct money transfer from streaming platforms Canadians like, to legacy broadcast services we increasingly don't.
OpenMedia

Small Creators Threatened

The testimony of those opposed to Bill C-11 (mostly smaller content creators) was shamefully ignored and worse, discarded as invalid:

But the government went beyond just ignoring witness testimony yesterday in the House of Commons. It now claims those views constitute “misinformation.”
Michael Geist

Many of these small creators have carved out a niche in international markets over the last few years, markets that Bill C-11 will destroy.

Bill C-11 trades prioritizing Canadian content for a market of 38 million people for de-prioritizing that same content for a global market that runs into the billions of viewers.
Michael Geist

Small YouTube and other social media creators could be forced to contribute to CanCon yet prevent them from benefiting financially. They may have to move out of Canada to retain the viability of their businesses.

CRTC Unsuitable

Bill C-11 gives the CRTC even MORE power to decide that even more content should fall under their regulation:

Bill C-11 gives the CRTC authority to:
  • Dictate how and where your content appears on digital platforms.
  • Affect your discoverability by artificially promoting some creators over others. Viewers may be pushed to watch content they aren't interested in, resulting in more skips and thumbs down, which would impact how your content is exported to global audiences, lowering viewership and revenue.
  • Apply complex “CanCon” rules that require you to prove your content is “Canadian” enough. This is easy for large Canadian media companies with teams who have been following these rules for decades, and makes it harder for smaller creators to benefit from any financial or promotional gain.
  • Push your content down in feeds if it doesn't meet CanCon requirements.
  • Regulate the length and type of advertising on your channel, which could mean less money in your pocket.
  • Digital First Canada
Bill C-11 does not contain specific thresholds or guidance. In other words, the entire audio-visual world is fair game and it will be up to the CRTC to decide whether to exempt some services from regulation.
Michael Geist

The CRTC is an unsuitable body for such authority; more so since it listens only to big media.

Fixing the CRTC would probably require legislation banning or severely restricting the big media companies from influencing the decisions made by the CRTC. A government in love with control is unlikely to ever create such laws.

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Bill C-18: Online News Act

Bill C-18: An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada

Bill C-18 received royal assent on June 22, 2023 without any major cleanup. This could permanently compromise the independence and diversity of Canadian news.

Bill C-18 purports to address a real crisis — the drying up of advertising funding that previously supported news organizations in the 20th century. Unfortunately, Bill C-18 misunderstands that crisis, misdiagnosing why news advertising revenue has collapsed, and who is at fault for it.
OpenMedia

Not only has Bill C-18 not produced the promised millions to news organizations, but led to the cancellation of all existing funding agreements with Canadian news organizations.

Rather than increasing local content, our news coverage is even more centralized by the big Canadian media companies.

Bell began to centralize news services (closing regional news centres) even before Bill C-18 passed:

[Bell Canada is] moving to a single newsroom approach across brands, allowing for greater collaboration and efficiency.

 

It's a consolidation of news gathering, news delivery. We are combining the news production function in a horizontal way so that you have one common platform that is serving news to the relevant outlet from one management team.
Richard Gray, vice-president of news at Bell Media

Local news will all but perish in the process.

Bill C-18 is mainly affecting the small independent news services that have managed to make the transition to digital services. Once example is the Halifax Examiner which depends upon social media for most of its new subscribers, much of which is now blocked.

News Now Harder to Discover in Canada

The attack on these social media giants threatened the discoverability of Canadian news by making it dependent upon foreign media giants; later the federal government.

Earlier this year, the Trudeau Government — supported by the NDP and Bloc Quebecois — passed a bill known as C-18, which aimed to coerce social media companies, specifically Facebook and Google, to pay “government accredited media” every time one of their links was shared on the social media platforms.

 

[T]his is nothing more than an attempted government shakedown of tech companies to reward their favourite media outlets — who already remain almost universally dependent on government financing.

 

News and media companies PROFIT from the free advertising generated from social media platforms like Facebook.

 

They use these platforms (at no cost) to distribute links to their content that directs back to their websites where they sell advertising and subscription services.

 

To then attempt to receive coerced payment for that free advertising is the height of arrogance and hubris that has rightly blown up in their face (and the government's).
Aaron Gunn August 10, 2023

The government reacted by directly providing the funding promised by Bill C-18. This did nothing to protect local news, but results in the end of independent journalism. Effectively, the Liberals purchased the already mostly-liberal voice of Canadian media beyond the CBC. Canada now joins countries like China with state-controlled media.

Michael Geist's Unbiased Coverage

Michael Geist, law professor at the University of Ottawa, has extensive coverage on Bill C-18.

The end result — at least for now — is a legislative mess that leaves no clear winners with Meta downgrading its platforms in Canada, Canadians cut off from their ability to share news on popular social media platforms, Canadian news outlets losing their second most important source of referral traffic, and the government looking to have made an epic miscalculation for having ignored the risks it created by establishing a mandating payments for links system with uncapped liability for the Internet companies.
Michael Geist

The government spread misinformation, stating that these companies are “stealing Canadian news.” That is not true.

Google doesn't "use" news content — we link you to it, just like we link you to every other page on the web.
Google blog

What both have been doing is providing links back to the news sources (i.e., the news outlets themselves). This is how the Internet works. By monetizing these links, Bill C-18 has broken consumer access to news stories on the Internet via social media.

The main beneficiaries of these links were the news organizations themselves. They post links in social media because it draws traffic to their site.

Today, producers of quality news want everyone who cares about their story to click through to their site and read all about it. That open flow of quality journalism has created the relatively robust online information system we use today.
OpenMedia

Why News Media Monopoly Profits Are Gone

Once upon a time news media outlets had a monopoly on advertising and charged accordingly. This was before the Internet provided free and widespread access to information.

I remember paying a month's rent for a two-week classified ad (less than two column inches) in the local newspaper to attract tenants for a three-bedroom suite — twice my monthly rental income. Vacancies between tenants were common at the time.

Those local newspaper monopoly profits are gone forever, replaced with unlimited opportunities to advertise online for free.

It is true that the internet broke the business model for newspapers. Newspapers had been financially healthy for decades, but when the internet came along, the landscape shifted under their feet.

 

Sellers could now advertise on Craigslist, or put their products on eBay or Amazon, or build their own sites and market directly to consumers. That meant fewer dollars got spent on traditional advertising.

 

This development has been financially catastrophic for the news industry. But importantly, this is a tragedy without a villain.

 

It is normal for technologies to evolve and open up new capabilities, for innovation to happen as a result, players to compete, and winners and losers to emerge.

 

That's how markets work, and it's not usually deserving of intervention by the federal government.
Sue Gardner

The Link Tax Issue

Bill C-18 essentially monetized links to news for just Google and Facebook.

Bill C-18 requires two companies (including Google) to pay for simply showing links to Canadian news publications, something that everyone else does for free.

 

The unprecedented decision to put a price on links (a so-called "link tax") breaks the way the web and search engines work, and exposes us to uncapped financial liability simply for facilitating access to news from Canadian publications.
Google blog

While social media is dependent upon content, news media plays a very small part of that

C-18 Threatens a Free and Open Internet

The Internet is a wonderful source of freely available (but not necessarily free) information primarily because there is no cost to link to content elsewhere.

Social media provides the opportunity for Canadians to comment on the news — discussion that is an important component to a functioning democracy.

These links provide the ability to credit the source for quotations or other statements, much like the practice of citations at the end of an essay or other publication.

Hyperlinks thus share the same relationship with the content to which they refer as do references.

 

Both communicate that something exists, but do not, by themselves, communicate its content. And they both require some act on the part of a third party before he or she gains access to the content.

 

The fact that access to that content is far easier with hyperlinks than with footnotes does not change the reality that a hyperlink, by itself, is content-neutral — it expresses no opinion, nor does it have any control over, the content to which it refers.
Supreme Court of Canada

News Organizations Post Links on Social Media

The supporters of link taxes say that Google, Facebook and others benefit from these links. Maybe so, but so does the broadcaster.

The stated premise of C-18 is that by making links to news material available on their sites, platforms are taking value from publishers, and so they need to be forced to compensate publishers for that value to "enhance fairness" in the Canadian digital news marketplace.

 

But that premise makes no sense. We know that because news publishers have always been able to opt out of appearing in Google search results, and they don't.

 

In fact they do the opposite: they vigorously compete to maximize their presences on Google and on Facebook. News publishers want to appear on those platforms, because that's where people are finding news.

 

When someone sees a story on Google or Facebook, and clicks on it or shares it, that brings traffic to the publisher's site, increasing its reach and its revenue. Being on Facebook and Google helps publishers. If it didn't, they would just opt out.
Sue Gardner

Link Taxes Failed Elsewhere

These policies have been tried and have failed elsewhere. The Canadian market is too small to control an increasingly diverse and internationally sourced content. Unlike Australia, we share a border with the country with the world's largest concentration of social media, television and movie conglomerates.

There is every reason to think that history is about to repeat itself in Canada. The media giants Bell, Rogers and Telus are likely to be the primary beneficiaries rather than the small local news organizations that the government insists will benefit.

Any new revenue will come at the expense of small Canadian creators like those reaching international audiences on platforms like YouTube and TikToc.

What About Local News?

We cannot fix the problem by propping up older systems whose funding model quit working when our options for information extended beyond the local newspaper.

Over the past five years, 106 local news outlets opened. While closures were majority print newspapers owned by large newspaper chains, the vast majority of the outlets that launched are digital and independently-owned.

 

Bill C-18, as currently structured, threatens these burgeoning operations.
The Globe and Mail

Newspapers downsized their newsrooms and began to use Canada Press (CP) for news snippets rather than delving into issues that TV newscasts couldn't cover in depth.

To survive, local newspapers need focus on what they do best — cover local news and events. The print edition is all but finished because the cost of production and delivery can no longer be funded by display advertising that has already moved to TV and the Internet to get its message out.

There are already local mini online publications that focus on neighbourhoods such as the Oak Bay Local.

Not Everything is Bad

A preliminary review of the bill would not be complete without referencing one positive, namely a prohibition on discrimination, preference and disadvantage. Section 51 states:

 

In relation to news content that is produced primarily for the Canadian news marketplace by a news outlet operated by an eligible news business and that is made available by a digital news intermediary, the operator of the intermediary is prohibited from acting in any way that (a) unjustly discriminates against the business; (b) gives undue or unreasonable preference to any individual or entity, including itself; or (c) subjects the business to an undue or unreasonable disadvantage.
That is an excellent starting point for addressing the actual concerns of the platforms and news media.
Michael Geist

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Canadian Content Rules

When cable TV emerged in the 1990s, there were only so many channels and so many hours in the day available for scheduled programming.

Canadian content rules (CanCon) were put in place to ensure that Canadian TV wasn't overwhelmed with cheaper U.S. productions.

Bill C-11 imposes the twisted CanCon rules (which are based upon CAVCO CPTC certification) onto the Internet

The only beneficiaries are the big Canadian media companies and their overpriced cable packages.

Can You Identify CanCon?

The point of CanCon is to promote Canadian stories — but what stories are up to snuff, according to the government?

Your favourite movies and TV shows might not meet the official standards to be considered CanCon.

Take the quiz to find out if you can identify what qualifies as CanCon.

Find out which films and TV shows are certified “Canadian”?
Take the quiz!

CanCon — Not What You Think

This strict points system is choosy about which parts of a production count towards “Canadian-ness.”

The result? Content we'd all recognize as quintessentially Canadian slipping through the cracks.

Quality Not a Consideration

Unfortunately program quality was never part of the criteria. Schitt's Creek is one of the few exceptions.

Instead, CanCon rules recognized documentaries on the American Civil War and Ghandi, but not a program based upon The Handmaid's Tale by Canadian author Margaret Atwood.

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Updated: April 4, 2024