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441-00791 (Media and telecommunications)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English


We, the undersigned residents of Canada, draw the attention of the House to the following:


Vulnerable Persons (which may include: any individuals who are susceptible to mistreatment because of the individual's circumstances, as a result but not limited to the individual's age, physical or mental disability, illness, or otherwise, who cannot protect themselves from violence, abuse or neglect) may not be adequately protected on social media platforms on the Internet, and where some persons in Canada or abroad may have intentions to exploit, sexualize or otherwise harm others located in Canada;

Vulnerable Persons may be bullied, targeted, threatened, blackmailed or otherwise harassed by others on the Internet and in particular on social media platforms;

There are currently inadequate controls that exist within existing legislation to sufficiently mitigate the risk of harm to Vulnerable Persons on the Internet and on social media platforms;

Parliament recognizes that the harmful effects of unrestricted access to Vulnerable Persons on the Internet and on social media platforms may include: the creation of sexually explicit material of young persons, online bullying, the proliferation of fraud, child luring instances and long lasting mental effects for victims of these actions;

Parliament recognizes neglect of these issues may cause an increase in public health and public safety concerns;

Social media platforms on the Internet continue to introduce and provide more opportunity for harms to occur to Vulnerable Persons;

Online age-identity verification technology is increasingly sophisticated and can now effectively ascertain the age and identity of users without breaching their privacy rights;

Age-identity verification on social media platforms can significantly reduce: the creation or proliferation of child sex abuse materials, online bullying, instances of fraud and child luring; and

Social media platforms have a responsibility to control access to their platforms by Vulnerable Persons for the mitigation of harm reduction.

THEREFORE, we, the undersigned, call upon Parliament to:

1. Commit to protecting Vulnerable Persons from harm whilst using social media platforms;

2. Create, implement and enforce an Act, Statute, Legislation or Regulation to empower ISPs (internet service providers) to prevent access to social media sites or platforms that ignore or fail to implement reasonable systems to ensure the age and identity of all its users; and

3. Demand of creators of electronic device applications, social media websites or businesses to respect the citizens of Canada by encouraging appropriate restrictions, systems for verification, usage and rules of usage that reflect such regulations.

Response by the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Chris Bittle

The Government would like to thank the petitioners for expressing their concerns regarding the protection of vulnerable people online. This is a very important issue, and the Government is committed to making the Internet a safer and more inclusive place for Canadians, including people that are in a vulnerable situation because of their age, or because they are facing violence, abuse or neglect.

As you know, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has been mandated to work with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to develop and introduce legislation as soon as possible to combat serious forms of harmful online content.

From July 29 to September 25, 2021, the Government of Canada held a public consultation on a proposed legislative and regulatory framework for harmful content online. Subsequently, a report titled ‘The Government’s Proposed Approach to Address Harmful Content Online’ was released on February 3, 2022, outlining the key takeaways. The Minister also convened an Expert Advisory Group, composed of 12 experts from diverse backgrounds, which met over the course of the spring. The group’s discussions included topics raised by the petitioners, including perspectives on child protections online. The work of the expert advisory group concluded on June 10, 2022, and summaries of their discussions have been posted online.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage is currently conducting roundtables on online safety to understand the perspectives of those who would be most impacted by the legislation. Over the last few months, roundtables have taken place in cities across Canada, as well as virtually. Additionally, there have been engagements with international jurisdictions to better understand their approach to online harms and the protection children and youth. The government sees this as a serious issue and will continue to explore avenues that will best support our youth.

The Government will take some time to further engage with civil society, experts, stakeholders and interested groups to develop an effective legislative and regulatory framework to confront harmful content online, especially as it pertains to young persons.

Presented to the House of Commons
Arnold Viersen (Peace River—Westlock)
October 24, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00791)
Government response tabled
December 7, 2022
Photo - Arnold Viersen
Peace River—Westlock
Conservative Caucus

167 signatures

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.