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

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Some of the priorities that the GDCF is hoping to touch on in their surveys that will inform community priorities. (GDCF photo)
Golden Community Foundation encouraging residents to participate in survey

It’s a new project to inform community priorities in the coming year

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read