“Worlds Worst” Cory Doctorow Joins Chorus in Condemning Canada’s Online Harms Plan

Long time digital rights activist, Cory Doctorow, is joining the growing chorus in condemning Canada’s online harms plan.

Canada’s online harms plan for the Internet has made Canada an international embarrassment. At the beginning of this month, we reported on the technical paper released by the government. After delving into the details, the online harms plan may as well be called the “shut down the Internet” plan. Sections are worded in such a way that no website could possibly stay in compliance. This leaves the stark choice of either shutting down altogether, face a potential $10 million fine, or move to another country should this become law.

We, of course, did our part and responded to the “consultation”, though we know full well that since we oppose the idea in a form (really doesn’t matter how), it will get completely ignored. After all, this whole consultation process really is just a consultation by notice. Essentially, the government provided a notice of what they plan to do and are actively seeking people to support it. This consultation in bad faith really isn’t surprising considering the absolute disaster that happened with Bill C-10 (thankfully, the legislation failed to pass).

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that this is a technical paper at this stage, not actual legislation. As we pointed out in another article, it won’t become legislation until after the next election.

As more and more people learn the details of what this proposal actually means (as opposed to the superficial, “it stops bad content, so I won’t read the details as I think I know everything about it” perspective), outrage grew. Initial reaction seemed to be nearly universally against this proposal. International condemnation against Canada grew yesterday with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) joining in in pointing out what a terrible idea this all is.

Now, long time digital rights advocate, Cory Doctorow, is also joining in the condemnation. Doctorow called the proposal the “worlds worst” idea. From his article:

Canada’s government is poised to pass a “harmful content” regulation. It’s a worst-in-class mutation of a dangerous idea that’s swept the globe, in which governments demand that hamfisted tech giants remove broad categories of speech — too swiftly for meaningful analysis.

Many countries have proposed or passed rules on these lines: Australia, France, UK, Germany, India. They are all bad, but Canada’s is literally the worst — as if Trudeau’s Liberals sought out the most dangerous elements of each rule and combined them.

Even worse: the specific contours of all these rules will be determined anew with each new Parliament, who will get to appoint a new Canadian “internet czar” with the power to expand and extend the regulation’s most dangerous elements.

The proposal allows Canadian cops to confiscate online services’ computers if they are suspected of noncompliance — but offers them an insurance policy to avoid having their doors kicked in and their equipment seized: to adopt “advice” from the internet czar.

So not only will the internet czar — who might someday be appointed by PM Maxime Bernier or Doug Ford — get to rewrite the rules in public, they’ll also be empowered to go beyond those rules in private “advice” to online services, backstopped by the threat of raids.

The Trudeau government are spinning this hard, just as they did with Bill C-10 (which included deceptive language that, on superficial examination, seemed to limit the scope of the law, but which was superceded by later clauses).

Doctorow extended his own thoughts on this via Twitter as well with a Twitter thread:

The raising of awareness is, of course, badly needed. With more big players in the scene raising the alarms about this, it offers an encouraging sign that there will be a big stink about this. It’ll still be unlikely that this will change the course of how this forthcoming legislation will take, but if there is huge controversy surrounding it, it will cause problems for those pushing this legislation in the first place. It’s not a bad thing by any means given how strong the push is to destroy freedom of expression in Canada these days.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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