Moon Report on Internet Hate Speech and the Human Rights Commission

Yesterday saw the release of Windsor Law Professor Richard Moon’s long-awaited report on Internet Hate Speech and the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The editorial writers are lapping it up – here is the Globe and the National Post, as well as the CBC’s more measured coverage.

The principal recommendation of this report is that section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act be repealed so that the censorship of Internet hate speech is dealt with exclusively by the criminal law.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has described the Moon report “an important contribution” to the discussion about the human rights commission’s role, and has suggested that the Commons Justice committee should consider its recommendations.

The section in question reads:

Hate messages

13. (1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Interpretation
(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies in respect of a matter that is communicated by means of a computer or a group of interconnected or related computers, including the Internet, or any similar means of communication, but does not apply in respect of a matter that is communicated in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking.

Interpretation
(3) For the purposes of this section, no owner or operator of a telecommunication undertaking communicates or causes to be communicated any matter described in subsection (1) by reason only that the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking owned or operated by that person are used by other persons for the transmission of that matter.

Comments

  1. It’s perhaps also worth noting the non-governmental initiatives Prof. Moon recommends, which includes screening by ISPs and mandatory press councils for all major publications.
    This latter measure was actually the remedy of choice for the original complainants that initiated the Moon report, and would go a long way to ensuring accuracy and responsibility in the media when dealing with maligned and marginalized communities.