Canada Denies Request To Block Hate Content

    August 28, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Canadian telecom regulators denied the request of a Jewish human rights lawyer, asking the government to allow Internet service providers to block access to U.S.-based white supremacist’s websites.

The request was filed last week on behalf Richard Warman, whose address was posted on Virginia-based neo-Nazi Bill White’s Blogspot blog and a website, with the directive to take violent action against him.

Also on the two sites, White called for the “violent overthrow” of the Canadian government and the extermination of all Jewish people in the country. Warman was singled out for allegedly masterminding a conspiratorial offensive against a Canadian white supremacist.

Warman, with the backing of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) and telecom consultant Mark Goldberg, petitioned the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to block the site out of fear for Warman’s safety.

But the CRTC denied the request, saying it raised “serious and fundamental issues” about the scope of the commission’s powers. Further, Canadian carriers should be provided with the opportunity to express their views on the matter before action is taken.

The CJC argued that the content violated the Canadian Criminal Code and expressed “disappointment” in the committee’s decision.

“In our view, the content on these web sites clearly breaches Canada’s Criminal Code, and we are deeply disappointed that the CRTC did not accept its responsibility to respond to a private citizen’s complaint,” said CJC National President Ed Morgan.

But the CRTC says that the petition should have at least been brought to the attention of carriers before filing, if not filed by the carrier itself.

From the CRTC letter in response to the application:

The Commission considers that the type of interim relief sought in the Application raises serious and fundamental issues of law and policy relating to the mandate and powers of the Commission pursuant to the Act. The Commission therefore considers that all interested parties should be afforded an opportunity to provide their views on these important issues.

In addition, the Commission notes that it would normally expect that an application seeking approval for a Canadian carrier to block certain websites pursuant to section 36 of the Act would be filed by the carrier(s) in question. The Commission considers that Canadian carriers should at least be provided notice that an application has been filed by another person for approval pursuant to section 36 of the Act and an opportunity to be heard

it would be inappropriate to consider granting the interim relief sought in the Application on an ex parte basis, and in particular without affording Canadian carriers and all other interested parties the opportunity to comment. Such a public process would allow for consideration of the broader policy and legal issues regarding the scope, and appropriate use, of the Commission’s powers pursuant to section 36 of the Act.

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