Tories’ Bill C-51 Would Make Hyperlinks to “Hate” An Offence
A February 3, 2011 press release from the Library of Parliament went almost unnoticed before the election and shows the Tories' dislike of free speech as they cast their net ever wider for repressing dissent: "Bill C-51: An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (short title: Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act) was introduced in the House of Commons on 1 November 2010 by the Minister of Justice, the Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson, together with Dave MacKenzie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Daniel Petit, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. 220.127.116.11 Hate Propaganda (Clauses 4 and 5) Hate propaganda offences must be committed against an “identifiable group.” Clause 4 of the bill adds “national origin” to the definition of “identifiable group.” Clause 5 of the bill provides that the offences of public incitement of hatred and willful promotion of hatred may be committed by any means of communication and include making hate material available, by creating a hyperlink that directs web surfers to a website where hate material is posted, for example."
Blogger Terrence Watson comments ( The Volunteer, May 5, 2011) : "The point is that Bill C-51 would prohibit expression that is permissible under the status quo, contract the limits of protected speech, and give professional grievance-mongers a new weapon to use against basement Nazis and other ideological opponents. And it is 100% a product of the Conservative Party of Canada. Why? Why did the Conservatives slip this into their crime bill? The legislative summary claims the purpose of the bill is to 'modernize certain offences.' And therein lies part of the explanation; just like Bill C-36, C-51 expands state power in the guise of modernizing it. To cope with new challenges and new technology, the government needs new powers. Gaps in the law — like permitting someone to link to hateful material without actually reproducing the text — cannot be tolerated."
Mark Fournier of Freedomiinion.com observes: "One of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's campaign promises was that he would pass the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act within 100 days of his May 2, 2011 election. This bill contains some of the most dangerous and oppressive sections in Canadian law.
One example of the dangers of this bill is Clause 5 of the bill which provides that the offences of public incitement of hatred and willful promotion of hatred may be committed by any means of communication and includes making “hate” material available, by creating a hyperlink that directs web surfers to a website where “hate“ material is posted. Hyperlinks are at the very core of the Internet: they are what enable every Internet user to view any available page on the Internet and direct others to view pages. This bill will put the control of all hyperlinks into the hands of government bureaucrats and put all Canadian Internet users in legal jeopardy.
This clause essentially makes any Canadian posting a link on the Internet legally responsible for the content of any web page linked to even though the person posting the link has no control over the content of that page. If the person who does control the page you've linked to changes the pages content, you are still legally responsible because you posted a link. This will make it unsafe for any Canadian to post a link to any page on the Internet that he does not control. This bill will also make it impossible for any Canadian to operate a forum or a blog that allows for public comments. Even if a blogger vets every posted link on his blog with a bevy of lawyers at his side he still will be held legally liable if the content of the outside web pages changes. The only way to safely operate a blog will be to disallow links to other sites and pages.
Beyond the dangers of this bill as it is supposed to function lies the massive potential for abuse by government agents and private individuals. A person who dislikes you for political, competitive or personal reasons could easily set you up with legal problems. Using readily available proxy servers and disposable e-mails anyone could set up a simple webpage outside of Canada with a theme of “I hate [enter favoured group here] and then post a link to it on your forum or blog. A screen shot of both the created page and the hyperlink on your page is all the evidence needed to show the new law has been violated. The immediate and potential dangers of this law cannot be overstated. Beware of government censors posing as agents for law and order.
Free speech supporters must immediately write their MPs and demand that the Government not introduce this form of Internet censorship. You can reach your MP by mail, postage free, c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, ON., K1A 0A6