Tell Your MP: Keep the Good, Ditch the Bad in C-63!

We all know it: tech companies underspend on dealing with cyberbullying, harassment and online grooming that hurts kids. 

Bill C-63, the Online Harms Act, introduces KEY fixes to remove blatant child abuse material, protect kids, and empower each of us as platform users.1,2 But that’s grouped with with undercooked changes to the Criminal Code that create frightening new penalties that will chill ordinary speech in Canada, and even impose penalties for speech crimes you haven’t yet committed.3

We’re telling our MPs: keep the good parts of C-63 and ditch the bad.  Send an email to your MP today to get the dangerous bits out of C-63!

So what is Bill C-63? C-63 aims to regulate 7 types of harmful online content on social media, live streaming, and adult websites.4 Three of these harms relate to child protection, including sexual abuse, bullying, and inducement to self-harm. Other content covered includes nonconsensually shared adult material, incitement to violence or terrorism, and hate speech. From an Internet-centered perspective, Bill C-63 makes some huge improvements on the government’s first proposals to manage online harms. Platforms are asked to develop risk mitigation plans for these harms, and share them with all the rest of us, so we can judge for ourselves how well they’re doing. They’re asked to empower their users with new tools to manage our experience on platforms and to automatically take down only the most vile and easily detectable Internet content – child abuse and nonconsensually shared adult content. Most of the worst ideas from 2021 –  ideas like breaking private messaging, website blocking, and forcing platforms to surveil their users and report their speech content to the RCMP are totally GONE. This targeted approach is a good thing, and these portions of C-63 could make our Internet a better, safer place.5

But from here Bill C-63 goes off the rails. The new Online Harms Act is packaged with huge changes to Canada’s Criminal Code and Human Rights Act that risk seriously chilling lawful speech. C-63 introduces a new offence, “offence motivated by hatred”, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. It increases the penalty for “advocating genocide” from 5 years to life imprisonment. And most concerning of all, it creates a new category of “pre-crime” – a series of life limitations like drug testing or home arrest that can be imposed on a Canadian who has committed no crime, because a judge and attorney general believe they’re at risk of committing online hate speech.6,7 This could lead to serious injustices within the legal system and frighten Canadians away from engaging in political protest and discussing sensitive but necessary social topics. Absurdly, experts are saying these “tough” penalties will likely be used even less often than our existing hate speech laws– so what’s the point?Canada has hate speech laws, and the principal barrier to their use today is a failure to enforce them, not a lack of punitive power.9,10

We believe the solution to fixing Bill C-63 is clear. Experts and analysts are calling on our MPs to split the Bill – get the child protection portion of C-63 done now, and give the extreme hate speech changes the government wants far more lengthy consideration and debate.11,12

A split C-63 will give MPs time and space to put appropriate safeguards on the considerable authority C-63 gives the new Digital Safety Commission, to ensure its decisions are transparently made, proportionate, and subject to democratic and judicial review and oversight. Rapid action on clear child abuse and nonconsensually shared material is a clear benefit to Canadians, but the broad powers granted to the Commission will still require independent review to ensure they’re used appropriately.13,14

The bottom line? We don’t need to give up our rights and chill Canadians’ speech to secure protection for vulnerable Canadians. Bill C-63 could do a lot of good, but it's going to need some serious fixing up. That’s why we’re calling on the government to pass the good parts of C-63 so Canadians finally have strong safeguards online, and separate and reconsider the problematic portions. Will you email your MP to ask them to keep the good in C-63 and take out the bad?

Need more information before you’re ready to act? Check out OpenMedia’s FAQ about Bill C-63!


  1. BILL C-63: An Act to enact the Online Harms Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act and An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts - Parliament of Canada
  2. Online Harms Bill C-63 is a positive step forward - OpenMedia
  3. Explaining Bill C-63, The Online Harms Act: An OpenMedia FAQ - OpenMedia 
  4. See 1
  5. A First Look at Canada’s Harmful Content proposal - OpenMedia
  6. CCLA Urges Substantial Amendments to the Online Harms Act - Canadian Civil Liberties Association 
  7. Canada’s new Online Harms Act (C-63): what you need to know - Osler
  8. Comparing people to vermin or excrement could prompt hate-speech probe under online harms bill, officials say - The Global and Mail 
  9. The Liberals table a fatally flawed online harms bill - The Globe and Mail
  10. Why the Criminal Code and Human Rights Act Provisions Should Be Removed from the Online Harms Act - Michael Geist
  11. See 9
  12. Online Harms Act a ‘step in the right direction,’ but social justice and civil society advocates united in commendation and concern - Hill Times
  13. My First Take on the Online Harms Act: Worst of 2021 Plan Now Gone But Digital Safety Commission Regulatory Power a Huge Concern - Michael Geist
  14. See 9

Press: Matt Hatfield | Phone: +1 (888) 441-2640 ext. 0 | [email protected]