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Canada’s Online Harms Bill: A Necessary Protection or Threat to Freedom?

The proliferation of harmful content online has become a major concern for governments worldwide. Canada is poised to enact the Online Harms Bill (Bill C-63) to address issues like hate speech, cyberbullying, the spread of misinformation, and child exploitation. This proposed law has sparked intense debate, raising questions about the balance between online safety and freedom of expression.

The Online Harms Bill would establish a new regulatory body and compel social media platforms to remove illegal content within 24 hours. It’s a significant shift, aiming to hold on line platforms accountable for the harmful content they host. While many agree with the need to protect children and vulnerable individuals, concerns exist about censorship, potential overreach, and the difficulty of effective enforcement.

Challenges for Parents Under Current Laws

Currently, Canadian parents face an uphill battle when seeking to have harmful content about their children removed. Platforms have their own policies, often inconsistent and slow­moving. Without a centralized legal framework, parents are left frustrated and powerless, especially in cases of cyberbullying or the non-consensual sharing of images.

Potential Benefits and Areas for Improvement

A law like the Online Harms Bill could provide faster and more consistent avenues for content removal and create greater transparency in how platforms handle complaints. However, safeguards are crucial. The tools created by this bill need to be easily accessible to parents and young people, and must be coupled with ongoing education about online safety and
healthy digital habits.

The Need for Balance

As an attorney and parent, I’ve witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of online threats and harassment, especially involving children. While action is undoubtedly needed, any legislation must carefully strike a balance. Protecting Canadians from harm should not come at the cost of stifling freedom of expression or creating avenues for government overreach.
A well-crafted law will provide dear definitions of harmful content and a fair appeals process for legitimate expression that may be wrongly flagged.

What if the Bill Doesn’t Pass?

If Canada doesn’t adopt robust online safety legislation, parents need to remain vigilant. Open communication with children about their online experiences is paramount. Using parental control features, teaching critical thinking skills about online content, and knowing where to seek help are essential strategies to reduce the risk of online victimization.

The Path to a Safer Online Environment

Canada’s Online Harms Bill has the potential to initiate a much-needed shift in how we address harmful content. The debate highlights that there is no simple solution. It’s vital to continue the conversation, carefully e11aluating the bill and its implications. Ultimately, creating a safer online environment for all Canadians, children especially, requires legislation alongside ongoing education, awareness, and a commitment from platforms to act responsibly.

In our commitment to a safer online environment, we encourage you to delve deeper into the details of the proposed Online Harms Bill. To learn more about its intricacies and implications, we invite you to explore the official resource provided by the Canadian government: Read more about the Proposed Online Harms Bill here. Your informed engagement is crucial as we collectively shape the future of online safety and freedom of expression in Canada.

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Melissa has 8+ years of combined Commercial, Business and Contract Law experience as In-House Counsel in manufacturing, health, real estate development, and broadcast communication industries. She is instrumental in developing strategies to minimize legal risk and ensure regulatory compliance.

She has 6+ years of Human Resources Management experience and a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) designation. Her practice includes Family Law, Civil Litigation, Wills & Estates and Real Estate & Conveyancing.

For fun, she visits ancient sites and ruins and belts out popular Broadway tunes.

northam law corporation

Northam Law is a boutique law firm offering advisory services in Real Estate Law and Conveyancing, Business Law, and Human Resources. Our practice areas also include Wills & Estates and Family Law. Notarization services are also available.

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