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Canada’s online censorship plan endangers free expression

Today, Access Now urged the Canadian government to ensure its plan to address harmful content online complies with international human rights standards. The current online censorship proposal is an attack on freedom of expression.

To protect the rights of people at risk, the following issues with the proposal should be addressed:

  • overly broad categories of speech that could be removed,
  • a 24-hour takedown requirement once content is flagged,
  • proactive filtering or monitoring obligations by online communications services,
  • severe penalties for non-compliance with the law, and
  • government-mandated content removal.

“Canada’s framework to censor speech online is an assault on freedom of expression,” said Willmary Escoto, U.S. Policy Analyst at Access Now. “The proposal would result in broad content takedowns, gutting the Canadian people’s ability to hold power to account. This is especially problematic for people of color and other marginalized voices, who already experience censorship online for speaking out against injustice.”

For more information, read Access Now’s full comments submitted to the Canadian government and Access Now’s comprehensive content governance guide.