Life Imprisonment Possible Under New Liberal Bill for Online Hate Crimes

Justin Trudeau | Source:

The Liberal party, currently in power in Canada, has introduced a bill aiming to combat harmful content on the internet. The legislation, which is expected to create waves in the digital world, was unveiled today.

The proposed law focuses on addressing online harms such as non-consensual sharing of intimate images, including those manipulated by artificial intelligence, commonly referred to as deepfakes. As reported by the National Post:

Bill C-63 aims to force social-media, user-uploaded adult content and live-streaming services to reduce exposure to online content deemed harmful, to strengthen the reporting of child pornography and to better address hate propaganda and provide recourse to victims of hate online.

It also amends the Criminal Code to create a new standalone hate crime offence that would allow penalties up to life imprisonment to deter hateful conduct, as well as raise the maximum punishments for hate propaganda offences from five years to life imprisonment for advocating genocide.

The bill is not without its critics, however. The opposition Conservative party has already voiced its intention to vote against the legislation. Critics argue that such measures might impinge upon freedom of speech and expression online.

The new legislation, if passed, will entail significant changes in the way online platforms operate. It will hold these platforms accountable for the content they host, potentially leading to increased censorship or self-censorship.

The ‘Online Harms’ bill is part of a larger global conversation about the role of digital platforms in moderating content. With the rise of hate speech, misinformation, and other forms of harmful content online, governments worldwide are grappling with the challenge of protecting their citizens without infringing upon their rights.

In addition to tackling issues like revenge porn and deepfakes, the bill also aims at addressing more severe forms of online harm, such as content inciting violence. The legislation proposes harsher penalties for spreading hate online, with some offenses punishable by life imprisonment.

The fate of the ‘Online Harms’ bill remains uncertain, with stiff opposition expected in the legislative process. Nonetheless, its introduction marks a significant step in the ongoing effort to regulate the digital realm.