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

FILE
70 per cent of people aged 12 and older in Agassiz-Harrison have been vaccinated

More than 80 per cent of adults aged 50 and older have been vaccinated, as of June 10

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Agassiz Agricultural Hall hosts COVID-19 vaccination clinics every Wednesday. District officials reported more than 300 doses are administered per week. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Walk-in COVID vaccine clinic scheduled for Wednesday

Walk-in appointments available while supplies last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in March at the Hope Station House, showing support for preserving the 1916 building. (Photo/Christian Ward)
New reports breathe life into efforts to save the Hope Station House

The documents were presented to District of Hope Council at a meeting June 14

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read