Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Online hate: experts call on feds to take a moderate approach ;e

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The federal government was supposed to introduce a bill on harmful online content this fall but it is still under construction.


Voice synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate a spoken text from a written text.

Experts are calling on the federal government to take a moderate approach in formulating the long-promised and still on-going Harmful and Hateful Content Online Bill. the work table.

Visiting the show The House,Hosted by Catherine Cullen on CBC, University of Calgary professor Emily Laidlaw highlighted the scale of the challenge for the federal government in formulating technically viable legislation that does not overstep the boundaries. .

It's very difficult legislation to write, highlighted the one who occupies the Canada Research Chair in cybersecurity law.< /p>

No matter where you look, the law poses questions when it comes to free speech. Some solutions are technical and therefore, it is difficult to do things well. It takes effort and finesse, and not everyone will agree with the end result.

A quote from Emily Laidlaw, associate professor at the University of Calgary

A previous version of this legislation, introduced shortly before the 2021 elections, drew strong criticism from several stakeholders.

Justin Trudeau's government promised to table a new version of this law last fall, more than a year after receiving the recommendations of a group of experts, but it is behind schedule.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilièvre has continued to accuse the federal government of wanting to censor online content in accordance with this law, arguing that the Liberals do not know the difference between hateful speech and speech they hate.

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But Ms Laidlaw hopes to see the emergence of a new approach to the problems covered by the law, based on the duty of care, rather than a punitive model, which would aim to erase content at the source.

My biggest fear right now is that the second this law is introduced, it will be seen as the savior of the Internet. If done well, its effects will be relatively limited. It will not solve all the problems of harmful content online, she warned.

Invited on the same panel, Matt Hatfield, general manager of OpenMedia, affirmed that the first version of the bill presented by the government would not have had any #x27;positive effect.

There were many serious problems with this law . She opted for a simplistic, punitive approach, which would have led to the removal of a significant amount of legal content.

A quote from Matt Hatfield, CEO of OpenMedia

I hope they come up with a sensible law that will respond very directly to the easiest content to manage, he continued. He also expressed his wish to see the establishment of a regulator responsible for ensuring transparency on the platforms by informing us of what is happening there, which could perhaps justify other legislations in the future.

Mr. Hatfield questioned what the government had actually learned from the wider consultation that was launched during the development of this new legislation.

From From the increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia online to horrifying cases of sextortion involving young adolescents, there is no shortage of topics to be covered by this new legislation.

Earlier this week, The Canadian Press reported that the government was also seeking to address the problem of deepfakes. in this legislation.

Shocking, sexually explicit photos featuring pop megastar Taylor Swift have also drawn attention to the dangers of artificial intelligence-generated images, disturbing even the White House and inspiring the filing of a bipartisan bill in the US Congress.

In an email to The Canadian Press, Justice Minister Arif Virani said the safety of children and youth on the Internet is a legislative priority of the government, especially in light of the constantly evolving capabilities of artificial intelligence.

He highlighted how video hyperfakes could exacerbate forms of online exploitation, harassment and cyberstalking.

Canada's desire to legislate against harmful content online echoes a general international effort to regulate companies that own social media. The federal government has already confronted the web giants with its Online News Act, which resulted in the impossibility for Canadian media to broadcast their content on Facebook and Instagram.

Meta, the parent company of these platforms, recently announced that it would prevent teenagers from viewing content relating to suicide, self-harm and eating disorders.

Web companies have a responsibility to ensure compliance with harmful content standards. It's impossible to remove all of this content from the Internet, but because people use dozens of different sharing services, each with their own rules and procedures, we need a more standardized approach, the Meta CEO wrote, Mark Zuckerberg, in 2019.

If done well, this law can do more good than the Online Streaming Act or the Act on online news, Hatfield said.

If it is bad done, the law could cause more considerable harm. That's why I think it's important to get it right.

A quote from Matt Hatfield, CEO of OpenMedia

Based on a text by Christian Paas-Lang, CBC.

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