‘Sounds insane’: Elon Musk on Canada’s new bill to mitigate online hate content

NEW DELHI: Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has weighed in on Canadian legislation designed to mitigate online hate content and enhance online protections, particularly for children within the country.
Retweeting an article on Canada’s ‘Online Harms Bill’ which appeared to be an “untrue claim”, that the legislation would give power to the police to arrest anyone who has ever posted hate speech, even before the bill was introduced in February this year, Musk said, “This sounds insane if accurate! @CommunityNotes, please check” said Musk on social media platform X, tagging X’s crowdsourced fact-checking service, Community Notes.”

In a series of comments, an anonymous account said, “It’s much much worse than you have been informed: plans to shackle Canadians electronically if accusers fear a “hate crime” might (might) be committed.” Responding to this, Musk said that this is the “terrible attack on the rights of Canadians to speak freely.”

On February 26, the Canadian Government, led by Justin Trudeau, introduced Bill C-63, aiming to establish the Online Harms Act.This act sets forth a foundational standard for online platforms to ensure the safety of Canadians, holding these platforms accountable for the content they host. The bill also seeks to enhance protections for children online and bolster safeguards against online hate within the country.
The proposed legislation includes the establishment of a new digital safety regulator and proposes amendments to the Criminal Code to enforce stricter penalties for hate-related offenses. As reported by the New York Times, this regulator would be empowered to issue 24-hour takedown orders to companies for content deemed to involve child sexual abuse or the sharing of intimate photos and videos without consent. Additionally, the regulator could initiate investigations into tech companies and impose substantial fines in the millions of dollars.
Under the provisions of the bill, Canadians would be able to lodge complaints with an existing human rights commission, potentially resulting in financial penalties of up to 50,000 Canadian dollars against individuals found to have engaged in hate speech, according to the New York Times.
However, the bill has encountered criticism, with opponents arguing that it encroaches upon freedom of speech and amounts to censorship. Pierre Poilievre, leader of Canada’s Conservative Party, has raised concerns about the perceived expansion of bureaucracy, suggesting that online crimes could be addressed through enhanced criminal enforcement mechanisms instead.


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