Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault speaks during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault speaks during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Revisions to Broadcasting Act won’t cover online porn, heritage minister says

C-10 is not about content moderation, Steven Guilbeault tells the House of Commons ethics committee

Sweeping updates to the Broadcasting Act will not cover pornography or sexually exploitive content online, the federal heritage minister says.

Steven Guilbeault told the House of Commons ethics committee Monday that a new regulator will handle child pornography and non-consensual material, but that Bill C-10, which aims to regulate YouTube, Facebook and other platforms, will steer clear of content moderation, including for porn.

That task will fall to an oversight body whose mandate will draw inspiration from Australia’s e-safety commissioner, among other watchdogs, in legislation that is still in the works, he said.

“It will not be done through C-10,” Guilbeault told the ethics committee. “C-10 is not about content moderation.”

Conservative and New Democrat MPs asked Guilbeault why a new regulator is needed to crack down on exploitive material when the Criminal Code already bars child pornography and the knowing distribution of illicit images.

“It seems the real and disturbing issue is a lack of application of the law and enforcement,” said Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs.

Guilbeault said current tools to handle online harms “justaren’t adapted to the digital world” and need revision.

When the broad plan for a regulator was rolled out in April, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Justice Minister David Lametti said child pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation present jurisdictional challenges.

Perpetrators and victims can be located anywhere in the world, while the reach of law enforcement agencies like the RCMP rarely extends beyond Canada’s borders, they said.

Rampant child pornography and sexual exploitation on platforms such as Montreal-based Pornhub — the world’s largest pornography site — have come under increasing scrutiny since a New York Times opinion piece highlighted the problem in December.

Meanwhile, the Liberals managed to speed up the controversial Bill C-10 on Monday, applying time allocation to a House of Commons committee with the support of the Bloc Québécois.

The move follows a blocked attempt to do likewise last week when Conservative lawmakers used procedural manoeuvres to prevent a House vote and hold up the legislation in a committee that’s been studying Bill C-10 since February over stated fears it could wind up policing Canadians’ social media posts.

Bill C-10 would bring global online streaming giants such as Netflix under the auspices of the Broadcasting Act, requiring them to promote Canadian content and to financially support Canadian cultural industries.

On another digital front, companies like MindGeek, which owns Pornhub and numerous other sites such as YouPorn and RedTube, have thrived for years even as reports poured in about images of children and non-consensual acts, and despite laws against child pornography and sexually abusive material.

Lianna McDonald, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, told the ethics committee in February that her organization has been “screaming from the rooftops that we are long overdue for regulation.”

Others say laws are in place but lack teeth, hampered by weak enforcement, poor resources and jurisdictional barriers.

In Canada, users who upload illicit images are jointly liable with the companies that distribute them — including for child pornography or material posted without consent — or that become aware of them afterward and neglect to remove them. That differs from the U.S., where the Communications Decency Act does not hold web platforms responsible for user-generated material.

An RCMP briefing note from December handed over to the ethics committee cited Heritage Canada as leading government “proposals to regulate online platforms.”

“Having the minister of culture and communications handle a file about horrific sexual assault videos to me is kind of like asking the minister of transportation to look after human trafficking. Why is it that the laws of the land are just not being applied?” NDP MP Charlie Angus asked Guilbeault on Monday.

Guilbeault replied that the legislation, whose timing remains uncertain, aims to shift the burden on taking down exploitive images “from the individual to the state.”

That prompted Conservative MP Arnold Viersen to ask about preventive action, since testimony from survivors over the past few months revealed how tough it is to scrub videos from the web once posted.

“I think you’re asking if we have a magic wand to prevent crime. We don’t,” Guilbeault responded.

He said he has spoken with officials from Australia, Finland, France and Germany as part of a working group on a “healthy digital ecosystem.” Canada will announce a joint project alongside at least four other countries to combat online exploitation and hate speech in the coming weeks, he added.

The pending legislation is set to deal with five categories of “online harms”: child sexual exploitation and non-consensual sharing of intimate images as well as hate speech, incitement to violence and incitement to terrorism.

—Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Canada’s privacy watchdog investigating Pornhub over alleged non-consensual content

Federal PoliticsInternet and Telecom

Just Posted

column
COLUMN: Permanently scarred or temporarily paranoid

Covid has changed my view on socializing

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

poster
Drop-in Covid vaccine clinic in Mission June 17-18

Neighbourhood clinics complement appointment-based clinics currently operating in Mission

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

A CH-149 Cormorant from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. (William Snow photo)
VIDEO: Military search and rescue training in Chilliwack Wednesday

CH-149 Cormorant and CC-115 Buffalo from CFB Comox participated in downed aircraft rescue simulation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read