The Liberal government of Canada announced plans to make online hate speech punishable, though the proposed law excludes social media sites for the time being.
The proposed changes to Canada’s criminal codes and human rights act, which have been in the works for months, come only weeks after four members of a Muslim family were murdered in a hate attack.
The new law intends to make internet hate speech a crime punishable by up to $20,000 (approximately $16,250 US) for the first offense and $50,000 (about $40,600 US) for subsequent offenses.
The plan would penalize social media users who violated the law, but it would protect social media companies that host such information from penalties.
During a virtual news conference, Canada’s Attorney General David Lametti promised Canadians that the proposed bill would not target “simple expressions of dislike or contempt.”
Rather, the legislation, according to Lametti, is only intended to penalize the most severe kinds of hatred, which “expresses detestation or vilification of a person or group on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement detailing the aims of the new law, known as Bill C-36, as well as additional measures being done to combat online racial abuse.
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