Canada’s New Online Safety Regulations

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Canada announced new regulations on Monday that would mandate digital platforms to delete any online content involving the sexual exploitation of children or intimate images without consent.

Prior Efforts and Road to Regulation

The regulations signify a culmination of efforts over several years aimed at overseeing digital platforms. Previous initiatives since 2022 have focused on boosting the presence of Canadian content on streaming services like Netflix and supporting news outlets financially.

Government Calls for Accountability

Canadian Justice Minister Arif Virani highlighted the importance of holding social media companies accountable for allowing harmful content to thrive on their platforms. The bill is seen as a critical step in ensuring the safety of individuals, notably children.

Parliamentary Approval Needed

The legislation must gain approval from Canada’s Parliament before becoming enforceable.

Global Inspiration for Local Action

Canada drew inspiration from regulations introduced by the European Union, the U.K., and Australia. The proposed rules are set to encompass social media platforms, adult entertainment websites with user-generated content, and live-streaming services.

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New Regulations to Protect Online Safety in Canada

Canadian officials have announced new regulations aimed at rapidly removing harmful content from social media platforms. These regulations target content that sexually exploits children or abuse survivors, as well as intimate content shared without an individual’s consent, such as revenge porn.

Focus on Popular Social Media Platforms

The purpose of these regulations, as stated by Canada officials in a power-point presentation, is to target social media services that are widely used by Canadians. However, private and encrypted messaging services will be excluded from these measures to protect user privacy.

Ensuring Online Safety and Free Expression

According to Virani, a spokesperson for the Canadian government, these regulations are designed to enhance free expression by allowing everyone to participate in online discussions without fear of encountering harmful content. Platforms will now be required to prevent the publication of harmful material or promptly remove it upon notification.

Establishment of Digital Safety Commission

To oversee the enforcement of these rules, Canada plans to establish a new agency called the Digital Safety Commission. This agency will be responsible for ordering the removal of harmful content and enforcing accountability among digital service providers. Violators of these regulations could face fines of up to 25 million Canadian dollars.

Internet-Law Expert’s Response

Michael Geist, an internet-law expert at the University of Ottawa, praised the narrow focus of these regulations on combating online hate and protecting children’s safety. He highlighted the contrast with a previous unsuccessful attempt in 2021 that involved taking down or blocking entire websites. Geist expressed his support for the new regulations, stating that they represent a significant improvement in safeguarding online platforms.

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