Bill to restrict internet wrong approach: experts
A federal private member's bill that would grant the government new powers whileimposing restrictions and penalties on internet users and operators is off base, internet experts say.
Joy Smith, a Conservative MP representing Kildonan-St. Paul, on Thursday introduced her proposed clean internet act, or Bill C-427,for first reading in Parliament.
The bill's full name is: "An act to prevent the use of the internet to distribute child pornography, material that advocates, promotes or incites racial hatred, and material that portrays or promotes violence against women."
The bill's provisions would grant the industry minister special powers to search data as well as the ability to order an internet service provider to block access to content deemed inappropriate.
It would force ISPs to exclude service to convicted offenders, and leave company officials facing jail time for failing to comply with some provisions.
While the goals are largely admirable, the approach is wrong-headed,some experts say.
"It highlights the problems people have with understanding the internet," University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist told CBC News Online. "This is not well thought out.
"I don't think anything is going to happen with this bill, given how it's inconsistent with the government's approach."
The bill even includes an ISP licensing system "that is so broad, it would include even a local store with a Wi-Fi connection," Geist said.
'Practicality is out to lunch'
Sam Punnett, a consultant who has advised governments on formulating internet policies, echoed Geist's concerns.
"The sentiment's right, but the practicality is out to lunch," said Punnett, president of Toronto-based FAD Research Inc.
Punnett said laws to address criminal activity are already on the books and apply to the types of online offences Smith's bill seeks to address.
The unlikely event that it becomes law would be a disaster, he said.
"You think that gun registry was bad? Just see what happens if this goes through."
Smith could not be immediately reached for comment.