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

Some examples of ‘kindness’ rocks that were painted by members of the Boys and Girls Club in Rimbey. photo submitted
The ‘kindness rock snake’ continues to take shape in Rimbey

Residents are asked to contribute a ‘kindness rock’ to a project near the Blindman Youth Action Building

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Image/ Metro Creative Connection
Rimbey Municipal Library struggling to finish expansion amid construction cost boom

‘We found that the cost is at least $100,000 more than anticipated.’

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Most Read