Revisions to Broadcasting Act Won’t Cover Online Porn, Heritage Minister Says

June 7, 2021 Updated: June 7, 2021

OTTAWA—Sweeping updates to the Broadcasting Act will not cover pornography or sexually exploitive content online, says Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Guilbeault told the House of Commons ethics committee Monday that a new regulator will handle child pornography and non-consensual material, but that Bill C-10, which aims to regulate YouTube, Facebook and other platforms, will steer clear of content moderation, including for porn.

That task will fall to an oversight body whose mandate will draw inspiration from Australia’s e-safety commissioner, among other watchdogs, in legislation that is still in the works, he said.

Conservative and New Democrat MPs asked Guilbeault why a new regulator is needed to crack down on exploitive material when the Criminal Code already bars child pornography and the knowing distribution of illicit images.

Guilbeault says current tools to handle online harms “aren’t adapted to the digital world” and need revision.

Rampant child pornography and sexual exploitation on platforms such as Montreal-based Pornhub—the world’s largest pornography site—have come under increasing scrutiny since a New York Times opinion piece highlighted the problem in December.

Meanwhile, the Liberals managed to speed up the controversial Bill C-10, applying time allocation to a House of Commons committee with the support of the Bloc Québécois.

The move follows a blocked attempt to do likewise last week when Conservative lawmakers used procedural manoeuvres to prevent a House vote and hold up the legislation in a committee that’s been studying Bill C-10 since February over stated fears it could wind up policing Canadians’ social media posts.

Bill C-10 would bring global online streaming giants such as Netflix under the auspices of the Broadcasting Act, requiring them to promote Canadian content and to financially support Canadian cultural industries.