Friday, May 24, 2024
ADVT 
National

B.C. places online harms bill on hold after agreement with Meta, X, TikTok, Snapchat

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 23 Apr, 2024 03:29 PM
  • B.C. places online harms bill on hold after agreement with Meta, X, TikTok, Snapchat

British Columbia has placed its proposed online harms legislation on hold after reaching an agreement with social media companies to "sit down in good faith" to find solutions on keeping people safer online. 

Premier David Eby said the proposed legislation remains, and the province will reactivate it into law if necessary.

"The agreement that we've struck with these companies is that we're going to move quickly and effectively, and that we need meaningful results before the end of the term of this government, so that if it's necessary for us to bring the bill back then we will," Eby said Tuesday, after making an announcement on a milk production plant in Abbotsford, B.C.

His comments came after a joint statement was released from the premier and the firms Meta, TikTok, X and Snap that says they will form an online safety action table, where they'll discuss "tangible steps" toward protecting people from online harms.

"Our hope is that we're able to reach meaningful resolutions of a number of concerns we have about the interactions of kids with these apps in a co-operative way around the table, ensuring British Columbian kids are protected," Eby said. "And that is what those companies are saying they want to do with us."

The announcement to put the bill on hold is a sharp turn for Eby's government, after the premier announced in March that social media companies were among the "wrongdoers" that would pay for health-related costs linked to their platforms in the proposed legislation.

At the time, Eby compared social media harms to those caused by tobacco and opioids, saying the legislation was similar to previous laws that allowed the province to sue companies selling those products.

Eby said during the announcement of the original legislation that one of the key drivers for a bill targeting online harm was the death of Carson Cleland, the 12-year-old Prince George, B.C., boy who died by suicide last October after falling victim to online sextortion.

"In the real world we would never allow a company to set up a space for kids where grown adults could be invited in to contact them, encourage them to share photographs and then threaten to distribute those photographs to their family and friends," Eby said when announcing the legislation. 

The premier said previously that companies would be shut down and their owners would face jail terms if their products were connected to harms to young people.

Eby said on Tuesday that Meta reached out to the province, and the discussions resulted in "assurance from Facebook" to also work with B.C. emergency officials to deliver and amplify public information in case of natural disasters such as wildfires.

"I think it's fair to say that I was very skeptical, following the initial contact," Eby said. "And one of the things we asked for was, look, we need to have assurance that if we're going to sit down together, that this is a meaningful exchange, that there will be real changes on the ground, that British Columbians can feel my commitment to the Clelands."

BC United Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon said in a statement that his party pushed Eby's government to change course, noting the legislation's vague language on who the province can sue "would have had severe unintended consequences" for local businesses and the economy.

"The government’s latest retreat is not only a win for the business community but for every British Columbian who values fairness and clarity in the law," Falcon said.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade said they are pleased to see the legislation put on hold, given the "potential ramifications" of the proposal's "expansive interpretation."

"We hope that the government chooses not to pursue Bill 12 in the future," said board president and CEO Bridgitte Anderson in a statement. "Instead, we would welcome the opportunity to work with the government to develop measures that are well-targeted and effective, ensuring they protect British Columbians without causing unintended consequences." 

Eby said pausing the online harms bill is part of the agreement with the social media firms.

"They also understand the bill's still there, I can come forward if necessary," he said. "Our hope is that we can make changes that are going to make a difference right now for kids and for families."

MORE National ARTICLES

B.C. government to set out housing targets for 20 more communities

B.C. government to set out housing targets for 20 more communities
The British Columbia government has named another 20 cities and towns as priority communities for housing targets over the next five years. The government says in a statement the communities are in high-growth, high-need regions of B.C.   

B.C. government to set out housing targets for 20 more communities

B.C. government sets November date for Surrey police transition

B.C. government sets November date for Surrey police transition
British Columbia's government has set Nov. 29 as the date when the Surrey Police Service will take over from the RCMP as the city's force of jurisdiction. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says Surrey RCMP will continue to operate and provide support after the official transition, although the Mounties will determine what type of support will be offered.

B.C. government sets November date for Surrey police transition

U.S. authorities searching for missing B.C. kayakers have found a body: RCMP

U.S. authorities searching for missing B.C. kayakers have found a body: RCMP
Police in British Columbia say United States authorities searching for a pair of missing kayakers have found a body in the San Juan Islands of Washington state. RCMP spokesman Cpl. James Grandy says searchers south of the border have not yet identified the person as one of the missing kayakers.

U.S. authorities searching for missing B.C. kayakers have found a body: RCMP

Stabbing near White Rock Pier

Stabbing near White Rock Pier
Police in White Rock are looking for witnesses after a stabbing put a person in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. R-C-M-P say the stabbing happened late Sunday near WhiteRock Pier, and initial investigations indicate there was no confrontation before the attack.

Stabbing near White Rock Pier

B.C. to increase local milk production with $25-million factory investment

B.C. to increase local milk production with $25-million factory investment
The British Columbia government is spending up to $25 million toward the construction of a milk production plant aimed at boosting the supply of locally sourced food products. The province says in a statement that the expansion to Vitalus Nutrition's plant in Abbotsford, B.C., will begin construction this summer and will increase local milk production by 50 per cent, to 1.4 billion litres annually.

B.C. to increase local milk production with $25-million factory investment

Trudeau announces $5B-loan guarantee program for Indigenous communities

Trudeau announces $5B-loan guarantee program for Indigenous communities
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is offering $5 billion in loan guarantees to support Indigenous communities seeking ownership stakes in natural resource and energy projects.  Trudeau says the program will help Indigenous peoples receive a fair share in Canada's economic growth.  

Trudeau announces $5B-loan guarantee program for Indigenous communities

PrevNext