Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Michael Geist On Linking To Hate Speech

He too thinks thinks that the hate-speech/anonymity provisions in C-51 are not where the main problems with the legislation lie. The main problems with the legislation are, according to Geist: has never been subject to committee review, it would mandate disclosure of some personal information without court oversight, it would establish a massive ISP regulatory process (including employee background checks), it would install broad new surveillance technologies, and it would cost millions (without a sense of who actually pays).

As for the hyperlinking issue in particular, Geist seems to think that the legislative summary is mis-describing what in the actual legislation.  It turns on the change definition of the term "communicating" from the old to new hate-crime provisions:

The revised definition is obviously designed to broaden the scope of the public incitement of hatred provision by making it technology neutral. Whereas the current provision is potentially limited to certain technologies, the new provision would cover any form of communication. It does not specifically reference hyperlinking.

I recognize that one could make an argument that a link could be included within communicating by any means or making available, but that strikes me a big stretch.

He then goes on to use the very same case I talked of here to argue that "merely linking to another site does not make that person a publisher of the material found at that site".  Now, Michael Geist is the world famous tech-law guy, and I am just me, but as I noted earlier the judge in the Crookes case also spells out circumstances where linking to defamation can be defamation, and it would strike me as odd if C-51 was not intended to bring linking to hate speech into the hate-speech provisions under roughly the same circumstances.  After all, hyper-linking to sources of hate speech is the premier means of spreading the stuff these days.


R. G. Harvie said...

Being devil's advocate, the problem is that you could, in theory, hyperlink to a site which you wouldn't conside a "hate site", but which without your knowledge includes an item of "hate".. (which is such a broad, undefined terms as to approach stupidity.. but anyway..)

No one monitors completely sites that they link to.. ie) "Sites I recommend"

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

bigcitylib said...

If so, why would anything different happen than if I had linked to a site that contained defamatory material? Roughly: agent for the defamed party emails me and asks me to kill the link. The notion that the cops would come busting down your door for linking to something that turned out to be hate is pretty silly.

Mark Francis said...

If the law passes before the SCC makes it's ruling, the SCC may actually re-interpret what it should allow wrt linking. It is influenced by Parliament.

Touchy stuff here.

Maria said...

I think they are educated well to say something on their speech.

Maria[dress pants]