Proposed online harms law: What marketers need to know

Feb 28, 2024
Digital Standards

On February 26, 2024,the federal government tabled Bill C-63 – the Online Harms Act. The bill aims to create stronger online protections for children and better safeguard all Canadians from online hate, bullying and sexual victimization, and content that incites violent extremism or terrorism, or induces a child to harm themselves.

The bill would require that online platforms, including social media, livestreaming and user-uploaded adult content services be transparent and accountable for design choices that may lead to harmful content on their platforms. It would also require them to employ mitigation strategies that reduce a user’s exposure to that content.

The framework proposes to create a new Digital Safety Commission for enforcement, and a Digital Safety Ombudsperson to provide support for users and victims.

Included in the bill are proposed changes to the Criminal Code to better address hate crime and hate propaganda, as well as proposed changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act to allow individuals and groups to file complaints against people who post hate speech online.

The CMA recognizes the federal government’s commitment to protect children and youth online through new legislation. The CMA and its members have long recognized the importance of keeping young people safe, which is why sections of the Canadian Marketing Code of Ethics and Standards are dedicated to outlining rules and best practices in this area. The CMA supports efforts to reduce harmful content online, as well as promoting safety and protecting children. 

These efforts are properly addressed in targeted online harms legislation, rather than in a general privacy law, as some have suggested.  Accordingly, the introduction of Bill C-63 is timely: As Parliament’s Industry Committee completes its study of Bill C-27, it will be important for them to ensure that no provisions are introduced that would overlap with, or contradict, Bill C-63.

There will be a period of discussion and debate before the Online Harms Act potentially becomes law. The CMA will keep you informed of developments.

For an update on other federal bills redefining the digital landscape read this blog.

For any questions or comments, please contact us.

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Sara Clodman

Chief Public Affairs and Governance Officer Canadian Marketing Association




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