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Government considering “legal remedies” for unregulated internet speech

The Department of Justice recently sent a letter titled Consultation Paper: Online Hate to various advocacy groups, asking each of them to provide ideas to combat “hate speech” online.

Attorney General David Lametti is looking for “legal remedies” to fight offensive and unregulated speech online, according to Blacklocks’s Reporter.

The Department of Justice recently sent a letter titled Consultation Paper: Online Hate to various advocacy groups, asking each of them to provide ideas to combat “hate speech” online.

“As Canadians spent more time online than ever, we must grapple with the double-edged nature of the internet and social media platforms,” the Department of Justice wrote.

“On one hand they bring tremendous opportunities for connection, expression and empowerment, but on the other hand…the spreading of hate has never been easier. We want to canvass your views in order to develop options for legal remedies.”

The department never made the letter public or listed which groups received the letter. Two groups who received the letter did make their views known.

Ontario Civil Liberties Association said it opposed any online regulations which “attack individuals’ freedom of expression,” meanwhile B’nai Brith Canada said it supports government intervention in the internet to fight “hateful speech.”

The Trudeau government has been considering regulating internet content since first being elected in 2015.

Earlier this week Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault said he wants to force social media companies to become licenced with the federal government in order to share Canadian news.

Guilbeault’s statement comes after he previously praised Australia for considering a law which would force social media companies to prioritize mainstream media outlets and pay the outlets for their content.

In January, a government commission recommended that media outlets become registered with the government and be subject to their “codes of conduct.” 

The commission also recommended increasing funding to the CBC, noting their importance in the fight against misinformation.

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