Westward Independent

The Online Harms Act: A Bold Move or an Overreach by the Liberal Government?

by Joseph Enslow
0 comment

In a dramatic stride that has tongues wagging from coast to coast, the Liberal government has unveiled its much-anticipated Online Harms Act, Bill C-63, with Justice Minister Arif Virani at the helm. Touted as a crusader for digital safety, especially for the youth, this legislation proposes an audacious overhaul of how online spaces police hate speech, protect children, and handle the wild west of internet content. But here’s the kicker: fail to toe the line, and you’re looking at penalties that could stretch to life imprisonment.

After a marathon of consultations and reworkings post their 2021 election promise, the Liberals have laid out a blueprint that’s as ambitious as it is controversial. The Act zeroes in on social media giants, live streaming behemoths, and those risqué corners of the internet dealing in user-uploaded adult content, setting a yet-to-be-determined user threshold for applicability.

“Protecting our kids online is paramount, but at what cost?” The government sings a tune of exclusion for private and encrypted messaging services, yet it holds a wildcard up its sleeve to extend its reach should the digital domain pose a “significant risk of harm.”

Breaking Down the Beast: Three Pillars of Digital Decency

  1. Guardianship Galore: The Act lays down a trio of duties for online platforms: act responsibly, make nefarious content inaccessible, and shield the children. From risk assessments to flagging tools and complaint hotlines, it’s a comprehensive call to arms against digital demons.

  2. The Sinister Seven: Targeting areas of “harmful content” ranging from child sexual victimization to bullying, self-harm, terrorism, hate incitement, and non-consensual intimate imagery (including those pesky deepfakes), the legislation aims to cleanse the online space of its darkest elements.

  3. A Digital Safety Net: Enter the Digital Safety Commissioner, armed with a digital safety ombudsperson and a mandate to enforce, oversee, and advocate. With powers to impose fines up to six per cent of global revenue or $10 million (whichever makes your wallet weep more), the commission is poised to be the new sheriff in town.

The Hate Crime Horizon: Elevating the stakes, the bill pioneers a standalone hate crime offence, carving out a “hatred” definition straight from the Supreme Court’s playbook. With adjustments to punishment scales, advocating genocide could now land you behind bars for life, a stark reminder of the gravity with which the government views hate propagation.

The Satirical Spin: As we digest this legislative behemoth, it’s hard not to marvel at the Liberal government’s audacious foray into digital governance. “Life imprisonment for hate speech? What’s next, a thought police?” one might jest. Yet beneath the hyperbole lies a serious inquiry into the balance between safeguarding digital spaces and preserving freedom of speech.

In a world increasingly mediated by screens, the Online Harms Act stands as a testament to the Liberal government’s resolve to police the internet’s anarchic expanses. But as we venture down this rabbit hole, one must ponder: are we charting a course towards a safer digital future, or are we teetering on the edge of Orwellian oversight? Only time, and perhaps the courts, will tell.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

As a dedicated grassroots newspaper, we unearth exclusive valley stories and events that remain hidden elsewhere. With passion and fearlessness, we expose what happens behind closed doors, giving you a sneak peek into the heart of our community. Experience the pulse of our valley like never before. Welcome to a newspaper that punches above its weight, where local voices come alive with every turn of the page.

©2024 All rights reserved. Designed and Developed by WWIND.