Canada has agreed to work more closely with the European Union to further regulate the internet. 

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne and EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton pledged to work together on several key priorities, including internet regulation, last Thursday. 

“On online platforms, the EU and Canada intend to continue to cooperate and exchange information on measures to ensure transparency, fairness and accountability and to make the Internet a safer and more inclusive place for users,” a government press release reads. 

“In the coming year, the partners aim to exchange on the implementation of their respective frameworks.” 

The European Union’s Digital Services Act has raised concerns among civil liberties groups in Europe for its excessive nature. 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and numerous human rights and free speech advocacy groups urged Breton last July to clarify that the Digital Services Act does not empower authorities to use internet shutdowns as a punitive measure.

“Arbitrary blocking of online platforms and other forms of internet shutdowns are never a proportionate measure and impose disastrous consequences for people’s safety,” the foundation warned.

“The European Union fully recognises that internet shutdowns severely hinder the enjoyment of economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights.” 

This was after Breton said in an interview that platforms would be required to pull down content declared hateful “immediately” or face “immediate sanctions” including a ban from operating “on our territory.” 

The act first came into effect on July 25, 2023. 

In one notable incident, the EU’s digital rights chief warned X CEO Elon Musk about alleged breaches of EU law due to misinformation on the platform following Hamas’ attack on Israel. 

The ensuing ultimatum to Elon Musk under the Digital Services Act has drawn criticism for potentially stifling dissent and imposing stringent restrictions. 

Breton’s insistence on the immediate removal of content labelled as “hateful” adds fuel to concerns about Canada’s partnership with the EU as the Liberal government has pledged to introduce legislation to combat what it calls hate speech, among other “online harms.”

Liberal justice minister Arif Virani said in November that such legislation was an “absolute priority” for the government.