Advisors appointed by the Heritage Minister plan to have political posts censored

'Censorship must apply to content regardless of whether it is legal,' says the Expert Advisory Group.

Censoring Political Posts
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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Pablo Rodriguez, Heritage Minister for the Liberal Party, has appointed censorship advisors who say that “misleading political communications” should be federally supervised. 

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the group also added that unregulated political discussion and disinformation was a kind of pollution that “erodes the foundations of democracy."

The Expert Advisory Group said that “a range of harmful content was said to be important to scope in including fraud, cyberbullying, mass sharing of traumatic incidents, defamatory content, propaganda, false advertising, and misleading political communications.”

Many experts expressed their concerns over 'misleading' information and said that it was not included:

The remarks are from minutes of eight separate meetings of the Expert Advisory Group on Online Safety held between April 9 and June 3. Minister Rodriguez on March 30 appointed the committee to propose methods of censoring legal internet content deemed hurtful.

“They stressed that Canadians’ ability to have conversations about basic policy disagreements has been severely impacted and complicated by the phenomenon of disinformation,” wrote staff. “They explained it erodes the foundations of democracy, polarizes people and reduces social dialogue to confrontational encounters.”

Disinformation was like pollution, they said. “The Expert Advisory Group agreed the problem has grown to become one of the most pressing and harmful forms of malicious behaviour online.”

A few experts introduced an idea that disinformation threatens the rights of users. "They asserted by polluting the information environment with false, deceptive or misleading information, disinformation undermines citizens’ rights to form their own informed opinions. Some experts stressed that disinformation undermines ‘freedom of attention’ by crowding and diverting citizens’ attention."

July 29 of last year was when the heritage department issued a Technical Paper and companion Discussion Paper that offered to appoint a chief internet censor called the Digital Safety Commissioner. Blacklock's added that "the appointee would have powers to take anonymous complaints on hurtful content, conduct closed-door hearings, levy fines and issue takedown orders to block websites:"

Internet censorship should include not only written content like Facebook posts but also video games, listings on Amazon.com and Airbnb and private communications like direct messages on Twitter, said the minutes of one session. “Many experts mentioned there is justification to look more widely at including some interactive services like Airbnb and gaming platforms,” wrote staff.

The expert advisory groups made it clear that censorship must be applied regardless of whether the content is legal. Since 1970, illegal content like hate speech has been monitored under the Criminal Code. 

Some experts were unsure on where the limits should be when it comes to freedom of expression. “They asked whether it made sense to tolerate a racist theory, one that would inevitably influence people to be violent. Some experts emphasized the right to freedom of expression includes the right to offend.” 

Heritage Minister Rodriguez had told reporters that the advice given by the group would ignite the foundation of the ‘censorship bill.’ 

“We will take that information, work on a bill and table it as soon as possible,” said Rodriguez. “Every government’s first priority will always be the safety and the security of Canadians. That’s why I am convinced we will be able to find a path forward.” 

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  • By Ezra Levant

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