The Independent Press Gallery of Canada opposes federal plan to regulate online content

The Independent Press Gallery of Canada (IPG) has submitted its feedback to a Department of Canadian Heritage plan on regulating social media and harmful online content. 

In the submission, IPG President Candice Malcolm responded to a technical paper and discussion guide put forward by the federal Digital Citizen Initiative earlier this year. 

Malcolm outlined the IPG’s concerns on how the government’s approach to regulating the internet would have harmful effects on freedom of expression and the integrity of the law in Canada. 

“We support and advocate for a media that remains separate from the government, and have a strong commitment to Charter values, particularly freedom of expression, association, and free press,” Malcolm said.

“The IPG is vital to the fabric of Canada and essential to an independent media. The government regulation, as proposed, is detrimental to these democratic values.”

The IPG raised the following key concerns on the federal government’s proposal to regulate hateful content online: 

  • The proposal has a problematic foundation in Bill C-36
  • It undemocratically infringes on Charter rights
  • Creates unreasonable obligations for online communications service providers
  • Doesn’t reflect Supreme Court of Canada decisions on privacy or Charter rights
  • Gives too much authority to online communications service providers to determine what is harmful content
  • Creates opportunities for bias and discrimination due to the arbitrary and unworkable nature of the proposal

“The IPG opposes the proposal and expresses a serious concern to the harmful effects on freedom of expression and principles of law that will ensue if the government moves forward with the proposal. We expect that the government will take our criticisms into account and will cease its pursuit of the proposal in its current form,” Malcolm said. 

The full version of the IPG’s submission can be found here.

The IPG is a not-for-profit organization that represents and advocates for numerous journalists and independent media outlets throughout Canada.