Censorship in Canada

Canada is a country with a history of inhabitation through mass migration. It still keeps paths open for the phenomenon which now has paved way for the nation to prosper through the absorption of best human skills from all over the world. Canada is a country with a far-reaching diversity. But this state also has measures to block diverse needs and views in the borderless internet society.

In addition to the judiciary, Canadian Human Rights Commission, various provincial human rights commissions, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission also have authority on internet censoring. Self-policing associations of private corporations such as the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council also have hands in internet censoring.

Canada’s practice is different and the social groups can invoke support to censor on the basis that the content is discriminatory towards a certain social group. As a result, the censoring depends more on the mobilization potentials than a discreet policy.

Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, a self-governing association of radio and television broadcasters, is the main body monitoring and regulating broadcast content in Canada. Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also has the power to regulate broadcast content but intervenes only in the most serious and controversial cases.

Canada has a much liberal policy on sexually oriented content. The Code of Ethics of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters is observed by the broadcasters. It defines a “late viewing period” as the hours from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. which allows programming containing sexually explicit material or coarse or offensive language.

But internet content is not subjected to regulation in same vigor in Canada. Laws apply to websites hosted in Canada as well as to Canadian residents who host sites on servers in other countries.

Canadian Internet service providers Bell, Bell Aliant, MTS Allstream, Rogers, Shaw, SaskTel, Telus, and Vidéotron announced in November 2006 a ‘Project Cleanfeed Canada’ under which something called ‘voluntary blocking’ of access to hundreds of alleged child pornography sites was imposed. This was not a state action but it was encouraged by the Canadian Government. Blocking based on reports by internet users which were investigated by an independent organization called ‘cybertip.ca’.

In October 2011 the Supreme Court of Canada issued a crucial ruling in relation to internet censorship. According to it, online publications cannot be found liable for linking todefamatory material as long as the linking itself is not defamatory.

Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) forbids ‘hate messages’ likely to expose a person or persons to ‘hatred or contempt’ over telephone and internet. In some provinces such as British Columbia and Alberta, this law has been extended to all publications. CHRA prohibitions are against discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.

Canadian organizations that struggle for freedom of expression criticize the totalitarian moves of the commissions that attempt to act as thought police through actions well beyond the accepted Criminal Code restrictions on free speech.

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