Briefing

Prime minister concerned internet regulation could be used to stifle free speech

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Justin Trudeau said governments should not approach tech firms as “automatic antagonists,” and that rules used by a democratic country like Canada to protect citizens could be used elsewhere to oppress citizens or limit expression. While he wants to work “in partnership with the platforms,” he said he is prepared to impose measures if the companies do not act themselves. He made the remarks at the Open Government Partnership Summit in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Canadian Press)

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Talking point: Trudeau has been privately warning social media companies since at least November 2017 that he would step in to regulate if they don’t address misinformation and hate speech themselves, and he’s taken that message public this year. But so far, the government’s actually done relatively little. It’s imposed new rules around election advertising, funded disinformation awareness campaigns, and announced some high-level principles—including limiting hate speech and personal control over data—that will guide future lawmaking. Contrast that with Britain and Australia, which are planning to hold social media executives personally liable for harmful content, or Germany, whose competition regulator has ordered Facebook to change its internal data-handling policies. And, Trudeau made his remarks just after—and a few blocks away from—a meeting of parliamentarians from 12 countries grilled Big Tech executives about their firms’ privacy and corporate scandals.