Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Good News: Partial victory for free speech C-51 put on hold


Good news today on C-51, which is the Conservative governments bill to make linking to website illegal was dropped from a recent crime omnibus bill.


Partial victory for free speech

BY: brian.lilley - September 20th, 2011

It was expected that Bill C-51, the proposed bill to update and modernize police search powers, was going to be part of the omnibus crime bill. That was the expectation this morning.

There is good news for opponents of the bill, it isn’t there. Plenty of other bills were included but not C-51.

Bill C-51 has many problems, one of them is the attempt to expand what a hate crime is and how it can be committed. The Library of Parliament in its analysis of the bill for MPs said that the language would mean that providing a hyperlink to something deemed hateful online could mean someone was in violation of the law. I first wrote about that here.

The government’s official response through Justice Minister Rob Nicholson was to say that I was wrong, that I misunderstood, that the law would not allow that. Others spoke up to say that I was right and the bill was a problem.

Then Alan Shanoff, a lawyer with a specialty in media law, wrote that the bill could make hyperlinking a crime. The government stuck with the same response.

Obviously someone thinks there are problems. From what I’ve been told the bill may in fact get a rework before being introduced.

If we accept wiretaps on phones as a police tool then we should have no problem with a modern update that allows police to check our internet use, with a proper w2arrant, if they have reasonable grounds and evidence to believe a crime has been committed.

But does the bill also have to expand ridiculous notions such as hate speech. Do we need to add “national origin” to the list of identifiers that we can be prosecuted for offending?

I don’t know about you but I’m fine with the government prosecuting perverts passing child pornography around but they have no business going online to judge the quality of my polish jokes or pass judgement on whether a link I post may expose someone to the emotion of hate.

As I said in my original column, will supporting the Armenian genocide be considered a hate crime one day because of how the Turks feel about it?

A crime is a crime. Adding hate in front of it does not make it worse. Making up crimes that never existed before we criminalized emotions doesn’t make them legitimate.

Keep up the pressure on this. Write or email your MP or write to Prime Minister Harper –  – it really is that easy.