Open Media: Bill C-63 - Good and Bad News | Unpublished

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Vancouver, Ontario
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Open Media: Bill C-63 - Good and Bad News

March 11, 2024
cell phone and computer key board


The government has finally unveiled the long-awaited Online Harms Act, Bill C-63 – and it’s an extremely mixed bag, combining sensible protections with alarming extras that could chill speech.1 We believe we can keep the best parts, and DROP some problematic provisions. Let’s talk you through: here’s the good and the bad in C-63.  

[✅]  Good News: Thanks to the hard work of OpenMedia community members like YOU, there’s some great ideas in this version of online harms legislation. 

  • Takedown requirements for clear and terrible content – child abuse and nonconsensually shared adult content – NOT for speech;
  • NO proactive surveillance by platforms of your posts;
  • Private messaging is FULLY protected;
  • Forcing platforms to give YOU tools to report content, appeal any content of yours that is taken down, block users who bother you, and talk to a human if you have a problem;
  • Asking platforms to think about the risk of illegal harmful content on their platform like inciting violence or self-harm, and tell YOU through public reports what they’re going to do to mitigate it.
  • These parts of C-63 are smart, nuanced approaches that avoid bad ideas from other countries. They could make Canada’s Internet a better place, and they’re worth fighting for. Your hard work and continued advocacy have made this possible!

 [❌]  But C-63 is FAR from a perfect bill; there’s major problems in C-63 that could DEEPLY chill speech in Canada. Unfortunately, Bill C-63 shoehorns in major changes to the Criminal Code and Human Rights Act alongside the sensible portions of the new Harms Act – draconian new penalties for speech offences that CANNOT be justified.

First, these changes bring incredibly harsh new penalties for online hate offences - up to a lifetime in prison on conviction! This despite the fact that experts agree that the principal issue with Canada’s existing hate laws is a failure to enforce, NOT inadequate penalties – and don’t expect these new penalties to shift that problem.

Second, these other parts of C-63  create a new category of “pre-crime”. Suppose a judge and attorney general believe someone is at risk of committing online hate speech. In that case, they can impose a wide range of conditions on that person, from drug testing to curfews, to avoiding certain spaces – despite that person having been convicted of no crime. That’s not proportionate. It doesn’t follow the basic principles of justice. And it doesn’t belong in a free democratic society. 

Critically, it also isn’t a core, necessary part of the Online Harms portion of C-63’s text. That’s why we’re asking our MPs to KEEP C-63’s protections for young Canadians, and DITCH these extreme speech penalties.

We’ve said it for years; online child abuse, incitement to violence, and cyberbullying are real problems that need to be addressed. However, any legislation that affects online expression must strike a balance, respecting freedom of expression and avoiding overzealous regulation that chills speech. Bill C-63 doesn’t strike that right balance yet, but we can get it there.

We’re calling on MPs to keep the targeted parts of Bill C-63 that’ll actually do good, and REMOVE the problematic speech and pre-crime parts of the Bill. Will you email your MP to ask them to keep the good in C-63 and take out the bad?

For a free and open Internet, 

Ramneet at OpenMedia 


  1. BILL C-63: An Act to enact the Online Harms Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act and An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts - Parliament of Canada
  2. Online Harms Bill C-63 is a positive step forward - OpenMedia
  3. Explaining Bill C-63, The Online Harms Act: An OpenMedia FAQ - OpenMedia
  4. 13 civil society groups share core guiding principles for Canada’s upcoming online safety proposal - OpenMedia
  5. CCLA Urges Substantial Amendments to the Online Harms Act - Canadian Civil Liberties Association 
  6. The Liberals table a fatally flawed online harms bill - The Global and Mail
  7. Comparing people to vermin or excrement could prompt hate-speech probe under online harms bill, officials say - The Globe and Mail
  8. See 4
  9. Canada’s new Online Harms Act (C-63): what you need to know - Osler



April 10, 2024

All this stuff is allready on the criminal books,This is just a way to silence oponents.