Canadian Telco Regulator Turns Down Request To Block Site

from the good-move dept

Yesterday, we wrote about the effort up in Canada to have the telco regulator up there force ISPs in the country to block content that is considered “hate speech.” As we noted, this was the wrong way of going about things. Blocking the content at the ISP-level wouldn’t change anyone’s mind about the content (on either side) and simply opened up a lot of other problematic situations. If the content is illegal, it should be dealt with — but asking it to be blocked by third party ISPs who have nothing to do with the content is the wrong approach. Luckily, it appears the Canadian regulators agree. They have turned down the request, saying it’s premature to order the content blocked — though, they want to get input from others on the issues at hand. Again, this seems like a situation that should be dealt with more directly. If the content is in violation of the terms of service where it’s hosted (Google’s Blogger platform) it can be dealt with at that level. If the content is illegal (which it may be) then it should be dealt with by law enforcement. Simply asking the content to be blocked by ISPs doesn’t help anyone, and simply gets a totally unrelated third party involved while not dealing with the core issue. In the meantime, all this effort has done is given the hate speech a lot more attention and a lot more credibility than it actually deserves.


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Comments on “Canadian Telco Regulator Turns Down Request To Block Site”

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38 Comments
Chris says:

Re: Wha?

lol, reminds me of the kids that got suspended because they went to a link they received and it turned out to be a site making fun of another student. They didnt know what the site was or any of that but they got suspended. Don’t you love it when adults try to protect us but in the end end up punishing us to protect us when we are unprotectable?

Teilo says:

Am I missing something here

I am always amazed when one of these stories comes out from our “friends” up north, and people here in the States start praising them.

Are you people nuts? Praising Canada because they aren’t going to force ISP’s to censor? Consider this: Whether you agree or disgree with those who speak out against homosexuality or who question the Jewish holocast, or spout racial slurs, you can be sent to prison merely for writing or saying such things. The real story here should be: “Despite ISP’s not being responsible for blocking such speech, in Canada, there is still no freedom of speech!”

I do not know what other things are considered “hate speech” in Canada, but I do know that anything might be considered hate speech, and thus criminal. Some day, your speech might be outlawed in Canada, even if today you don’t fall into any of the above categories.

Jared (user link) says:

TOS violations

ISPS should not be the ones who block content. They should be the way to connect to the internet. It is up to the individual hosting companies to shut down the sites that have this content on them. So many people are making the ISPs have the burdon of policing everyones brousing and e-mail for content, spam, and viruses. The ISP’s job should be to provide the connection to the tubes. Not to filter the content going into their tubes. When you sign up for a hosting account you have a terms of service agreement and included in those agreements are usually not using their service to have hate sites, piracy sites, etc.

charlie potatoes (profile) says:

Off Topic:

I have always maintained that anyone who proposes a constitutional amendment against flag desecration is too stupid to have me explain it to him.

What I would be proposing if I believed that way is an amendment making it a legal to kick the shit out of anyone who does it in public.

ergo, he (the unpatriotic towel head) gets his free speech and Bubba and I get ours.

hazel says:

Ummm Poutine!

In Canada, we understand the power of words, thats why so many of the worlds best comedians come from here.

It is unlawful in Canada to teach unlawful things, or to publish lies, that is why people who publicly state and publicly publish the holocost never happend, are required to face the law. You can think and say whatever you want in private life, but once you enter the public arena to spread hate, there is a different set of accountabilities.

Canada is complex, just like her people.

boozecan says:

Canada

Although you think America is land of the free, there are far more restrictions placed on you than Canadians. Canada is a passive, liberal and much less anal country than the US. In Canada we do not allow haters to spread their hate filled speech and do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen. Maybe that is why we have far less problems with race/gender/sexuality than America. We are far more accepting of others’ views, but if those views are harmful and degrating, then we make sure they are silenced.

ACCOUNTABILITY is important to Canadians.. maybe America can learn something from that?

brwyatt says:

Interesting replies

The major argument seems to revolve around who should be incharge of the regulation on content (ISPs or Hosts), and freedom of speech (I personaly like that bit on flag desicration, good job charlie potatoes!)

Personaly, I am canadian by birth, American by choice (well, my dad’s chouce, but my choice later on). I love both countires.

I am currently taking a government class and have since realized that, as Anonymous Coward on Aug 26th, 2006 @ 3:13pm said: “and Americans think there are “free”” is true. Yes, we do have our rights that are stated in amendments 1-10, but things such as the patriot act, give easy access to the ability to remove it for no real reason, just for saying “I hate Bush,” they could start taping your phones with NO WARRENT (well, one without a judges signature)(Its a little more complex than that, but thats the simple version). Not to mention, we, the citizens of the US of A do not actually elect the president, we elect electors of a political party, say republicans, and then they go to washington as a group and vote for us. however, they can (if they decide to) vote democrat. Its an interesting system, to say the least… it even contains checks and balances on the “moboracy” or the people… and was to be lead by the “aristocracy othe the educated.”…. agin, its an interesting system…. but it seems to have lasted, partly because it can adapt.

Novernets Bandit says:

defending canada

when u think about canada remember that everyone in the country has health insurance and many other benifits given to them by the queen(palament) canada legalized pot to smoke but not buy or sell. the country is a great place to visit and is never involved with us bullshit overseas. We as americans are lucky that canada is a friendly place since 1980 there population has trippled. for such a decolite place theres alot to do there all remember the movie coyotee ugly?? guess what go to that bar there its amazing!

end result dont hate appriciate.!

Johnson says:

What's the solution?

” As we noted, this was the wrong way of going about things. Blocking the content at the ISP-level wouldn’t change anyone’s mind about the content (on either side) and simply opened up a lot of other problematic situations. If the content is illegal, it should be dealt with — but asking it to be blocked by third party ISPs who have nothing to do with the content is the wrong approach.

So, what’s considered the right approach? You can’t take down the hate speech site – it may be in a different country. So, if you have a foreign site advocating the overthrow of the government, murder of innocent civilians, abortion clinic bombing, church burning, etc, what’s your solution?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: What's the solution?

So, what’s considered the right approach? You can’t take down the hate speech site – it may be in a different country. So, if you have a foreign site advocating the overthrow of the government, murder of innocent civilians, abortion clinic bombing, church burning, etc, what’s your solution?

If it’s a violation of the terms of service of the hosting company, you can approach them. If the site is hosted in a country where this is in violation of the laws, you can approach law enforcement.

However, more important is the recognition that this speech is unlikely to have a real impact. For people who believe in that stuff, it’s not like they just happened across some random website and suddenly decided it would be good to go and kill people. The best thing to do is (1) ignore the site and let it go away or (2) point out why it’s wrong. Shutting them down or blocking them just gives them more attention and makes them think they’re on to something.

Johnson says:

Re: Re: What's the solution?

However, more important is the recognition that this speech is unlikely to have a real impact.

Wasn’t there a case a few years back where a web site was opposing abortions and listed the names and addresses of doctors performing abortions? Around the same time as the abortion clinic fire bombings?

Do you want to be targeted like that? Should we wait until after you and your family are dead before we take action?

The U.S. has historically place some limits on speech. You’re not allowed to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. You’re not allowed to incite a riot. More recently, we’ve even put a gag on political speech in the name of campaign finance reform.

So, if a nation (like Germany) doesn’t want pro-Nazi propaganda, if a nation like Canada wants to block hate speech sites, what’s your solution (besides telling them “to get over it”)?

Ultimately, having the ISP or teleco’s block the traffic is probably one of the few effective solutions.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What's the solution?

Wasn’t there a case a few years back where a web site was opposing abortions and listed the names and addresses of doctors performing abortions? Around the same time as the abortion clinic fire bombings?

You honestly believe those bombings wouldn’t have happened without the website? The folks promoting that info would have sent it out to their followers by other means, such as email or private bulletin board. The fact is that the info would be out there.

In fact, having it on a public site is probably better, because it makes it clearer who’s being targeted and how to protect them.

Do you want to be targeted like that? Should we wait until after you and your family are dead before we take action?

Did you even read what we wrote? No. If there’s a specific threat, we should go after those making the threat and prosecute them as the law states.

The U.S. has historically place some limits on speech. You’re not allowed to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. You’re not allowed to incite a riot. More recently, we’ve even put a gag on political speech in the name of campaign finance reform.

Wow, did you ever miss the point. Yes, absolutely, as we said, IF THIS GUY IS BREAKING THE LAW, then go after him. The point was that they weren’t going after him. They were just asking the ISPs to block, which is ineffective and dangerous.

So, if a nation (like Germany) doesn’t want pro-Nazi propaganda, if a nation like Canada wants to block hate speech sites, what’s your solution (besides telling them “to get over it”)?

Um. What’s wrong with telling them to get over it? Blocking the speech is putting your head in the sand. It’s not solving the issue. It’s not helping to educate those who are ignorant. It’s pretending the ignorance and hatred doesn’t exist, while allowing it to grow angrier. That’s bad. That’s dangerous.

Ultimately, having the ISP or teleco’s block the traffic is probably one of the few effective solutions.

Define “effective.” If you mean allowing a gov’t or ISP to pretend a problem doesn’t exist without actually focusing on the real issue, then sure, it’s “effective.” Instead, if you actually think it through you realize this isn’t even remotely effective in dealing with the problem and has a high likelihood of making it worse.

It doesn’t stop anyone from thinking the way they do. It doesn’t reduce the threat against the individuals. It gets more attention to the hatred. It makes those spewing the hatred feel persecuted and more justified in their hatred. It doesn’t really block those thoughts, as those who want to find them will find them elsewhere. It doesn’t help to deal with the underlying issue of the hatred. It opens the door to other blocks for other content. It likely ends up blocking additional perfectly legitimate sites.

How in the world could you possibly consider that effective?

Johnson says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What's the solution?

Did you even read what we wrote? No. If there’s a specific threat, we should go after those making the threat and prosecute them as the law states.

Wow, did you ever miss the point.

Wow. Did you even read the premise?!? The guy is in a foreign country where your country has no jurisdiction. You can not go after him because your laws don’t apply.

You and your puny laws can’t touch him

Now, are you going to allow someone to publish your name, your address, your child’s photo, and a “gee, wouldn’t it be great it if we could kill Mike and his b*st*rds”?

Remember … their in the server is in a foreign country. You just have to get over it I guess.

It doesn’t reduce the threat against the individuals.

So, allowing access to “Let’s kill Mike and his kids” makes you more safe than blocking such messages? Good job Mike. I feel safer already.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 What's the solution?

Wow. Did you even read the premise?!? The guy is in a foreign country where your country has no jurisdiction. You can not go after him because your laws don’t apply.

The guy is in the US, where it’s illegal to make threats. The Canadian and US authorities cooperate all the time.

So, uh, sorry, the laws do apply.

Remember … their in the server is in a foreign country. You just have to get over it I guess.

No, you go to authorities in that country. This isn’t that hard.

So, allowing access to “Let’s kill Mike and his kids” makes you more safe than blocking such messages? Good job Mike. I feel safer already.

No. Pretending it doesn’t exist doesn’t make me or my family any safer. The people who supposedly want to kill me or my kids will still get the same message. Pretending it isn’t there doesn’t help — and it’s worrisome that you think it does. It’s putting your head in the sand. Going after the individual for the threats makes me safer. You do recognize that there’s a difference?

Alec Saunders (user link) says:

1984

I would encourage you all to go and read the provisions of the Canadian laws on this topic. They are available here:

http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/legislation/canadian_law/federal/criminal_code/criminal_code_hate.cfm

Once you’ve read them, then I would encourage you to go and read the EFF’s summary of the USA Patriot Act. Note in particular the provisions which remove the requirements for a warrant.

http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/Terrorism/20011031_eff_usa_patriot_analysis.php

Anybody seen the movie 1984?

’nuff said.

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