Canadian Digital Charter Combats Fake News and Hate Speech

Canada has launched a new Digital Charter, aimed at both increasing citizen protection for online activities and enforcing social media platform rules.

The charter comes after multiple instances of oversight by popular social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

As noted by Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, the charter will target online hate speech and fake news.

As Trudeau further said, “The platforms are failing their users, and they’re failing our citizens. They have to step up in a major way to counter disinformation. And if they don’t, we will hold them to account and there will be meaningful financial consequences.”

According to the Government of Canada, the digital charter has 10 driving principles:

  1. A level playing field
  2. Control and consent
  3. Data and digital media used for good
  4. Enforcement and real accountability
  5. Freedom from violence and hate
  6. Open, modern digital government
  7. Safety and security
  8. Strong democracy
  9. Transparency
  10. Universal access

Three of the principles — strong democracy, freedom from violence and hate, and enforcement and real accountability — are aimed at dealing with social media hate speech and disinformation, particularly of the kind recently experienced with the New Zealand shooting, Myanmar genocide and US presidential election.

As the charter says, “The Government of Canada will defend freedom of expression and protect against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions. Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content. There will be clear, meaningful penalties for violations of the laws and regulations that support these principles.”

The charter launch follows Canada’s signing of the Christchurch Call, a plan to prevent terrorists from uploading extremist content online, as well as to increase tech company transparency.