Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Twits" Expanding Definition of Online Hate Crime?

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I wrote about the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers, which attempts to help bloggers figure out and stay clear of some of the legal liability issues potentially involved in, well, blogging.

Now, as if there weren't enough to think about, today I came across this. 

I can't say it's really surprising - I mean if you're brainless enough to post something stupid on Facebook, Twitter or wherever, you probably deserve what you get. 

Anyone who hasn't yet figured out that police, reporters and future (and even current) employers will check up on what they're on to line ... well, let's just say they're not the brightest crayon in the box.

So, let's just hope all the twits tweeters out there remember that, too.

Although I must say that getting fired for simply stating what many might consider the obvious does seem a bit much.
Goddard landed in hot water last week after retweeting a comment by Twitter user @Uptownhockey, an account for Burlington, Ont.-based Uptown Sports Management, which stated: "Very sad to read Sean Avery’s misguided support of same-gender ‘marriage.’ Legal or not, it will always be wrong."

In his own tweet, Goddard wrote: "I completely and whole-heartedly support (Uptown’s) Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage."
Let's hope they have a lot more than that backing them up when they try to defend a wrongful dismissal suit. Free speech anybody?

But if you thought that was bad, you might just want to sit down for this one.
Are the federal Conservatives trying to kill use of the hyperlink in Canada?

As ludicrous as that sounds, pending legislation in Ottawa seeks to amend the Criminal Code in a way that would make people who hyperlink to other websites potentially guilty of a hate crime if those linked sites wilfully promoted hatred against an identifiable group.

The wording in question in Bill C-51 is as follows:

"Clause 5 of the bill provides that the offences of public incitement of hatred and wilful promotion of hatred may be committed by any means of communication and include making hate material available, by creating a hyperlink that directs web surfers to a website where hate material is posted, for example.

The changes are touted by government as necessary to "modernize the Criminal Code in light of new technologies as well as to arm police with stronger powers to investigate computer-based crimes.
Yup, as crazy as it sounds, it appears that our esteemed Conservative government is seriously considering amending the Criminal Code so as to potentially make a blogger guilty of a "hate crime" for linking to a website that contains "hate material".

Now, I'm all for updating all manner of laws to deal with this brave new world we find ourselves in (including the rules of parenting!) but does anyone think this might be going just a little too far?

As pointed out by Mr. Schneidereit, what if the blogger didn't know the website she linked to contained such material? What if the material was posted to the second site after the link was established? What if the site linked to wasn't "hateful" but it (either now or later) linked to a site that was?  What if we've all gone down the rabbit hole?

And just as an aside, not that I am any fan of our current government, but doesn't "conservative" generally mean "less" government, not "more"?

 I mean I could see the federal NDPers trying something like this and giving all us "left leaners" a bad name. 

But the Conservatives?  Really?

Perhaps it's time we all put the mouse down and stepped away from the computer.


Pogue said...

"Perhaps it's time we all put the mouse down and stepped away from the computer."

Or perhaps it's time to vote them out.

MMC said...

Indeed. The only problem is we JUST (like maybe 2 weeks ago) had a federal election and voted them in again ... they've had a minority gov't the last two times and this time they were actually voted in as a majority gov't. So I'm thinking they won't be going anywhere for a while. *sigh*

BTW I've been meaning to email you and say thanks, I see you're a very regular visitor around here. Even when there's not actually anything new to visit. Appreciate that. :D

Pogue said...

Always have to check and see what you have to say... I know life has a way of interfering with blogging & stuff. :-)

Casdok said...

Wow - yes going rather too far.