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Bill C-63: Online Harms Act

20 March 2024
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The government introduced Bill C-63 on February 26, 2024.

The bill has three main sections. The first enacts the Online Harms Act, setting up a new regulatory framework with responsibilities for online platforms and creating a new Digital Safety Commission and a Digital Safety Ombudsperson.

This framework is focused on seven categories of online harm: intimate content communicated without consent and content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor, bullies a child, induces a child to self-harm, foments hatred, incites violence, or incites extremism or terrorism.

The Digital Safety Commission would monitor online platforms, requiring them to develop digital safety plans and guidelines, tools to flag harmful content/block users, and so on. The Commission would hear complaints and be empowered to make two kinds of content inaccessible: content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor and intimate content shared without consent.

The second section of Bill C-63 would make changes to the Criminal Code. It would add a definition of hatred and a new crime of ‘committing an offence that is motivated by hatred’ with a possible maximum sentence of life in prison. It would increase the maximum sentences for current hate propaganda offences. It would also add hate propaganda and hate crime offences to the current peace bond provisions.

The third section would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act. Bill C-63 would add communicating hate speech as a discriminatory practice. This would allow a person or a group to make a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission about online speech that is “likely to foment detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”

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