In-house research from the Privy Council found that most Canadians believe that the government should stay out of censoring the internet to protect Canadians from “misinformation.” 

The federal government contracted Strategic Counsel to hold several focus groups to engage people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada about their views on the government’s plans to censor the internet.

“Discussing actions which could be taken to mitigate online misinformation and disinformation, participants stressed the role of individual responsibility,” said Privy Council researchers, according to the Toronto Sun.

Canadians who were concerned about potential harmful content on apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube and SnapChat still said that it “was the responsibility of individuals” and not the federal government to dictate what was suitable.

“A number were of the view it was of critical importance for Canadians to be able to leave comments and have their voices heard regarding initiatives and policies important to them,” reads part of one of the reports, accumulatively called Continuous Qualitative Data Collection Of Canadians’ Views

In November Attorney General Arif Virani was asked what future regulations on the internet might look like and Virani said he was studying “international best practices” on the matter, however, he did not provide any examples.

Cabinet had previously indicated it had plans to re-introduce a bill from 2021, known as Bill c-36, which would revive the controversial Section 13 amendment to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which expanded the scope of hate speech laws to the online realm.

The Section 13 amendment was shut down under the Harper government in 2013, which had been used to censor internet content deemed to be hateful. 

Bill C-36 or An Act To Amend The Criminal Code proposed $70,000 fines for legal content deemed “likely to foment detestation or vilification,” but it expired in the last Parliament.

“Participants were asked if they were concerned about the spread of misinformation and disinformation,” said Canadians’ Views.

“Though all participants reported feeling some degree of concern, some also expressed reservations about the potential for censorship in any attempt by the federal government to prevent the proliferation of false information online.”