Experts want online hate law to apply to Airbnb and video games

Earlier this year, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez appointed an advisory panel of internet security experts to make recommendations on such legislation. (Photo: Canadian Press)

Ottawa. The panel of experts tasked with helping draft the federal online hate bill suggests it concerns accommodation booking platform Airbnb, as well as video games and even online private messaging.

The Advisory Committee believes that a future online hate law should have a broad scope, covering not only the social networks Twitter and Facebook, but also smaller online platforms, including crowdfunding apps, according to reports of their discussions published online.

Many of the experts in the group also argued that private conversations on the Internet “are subject to the law.”

The liberal government has said it wants to introduce an online hate bill to ensure that harmful content, such as racist and anti-Semitic slurs online, is quickly removed by platforms.

Earlier this year, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez appointed an advisory panel of internet security experts to make recommendations on such legislation.

In the group’s working papers, the Heritage Department said it did not intend to regulate services such as Uber, Airbnb and Peloton. The Ministry proposed to “exclude” them. […]because their main purpose is not to provide communication between people as such, but to organize transportation, rent accommodation or participate in training.

However, many of the experts in the group suggested a broader scope and wanted to “include all organizations that provide online communication.” Some said “wider consideration” was warranted, including “certain interactive services such as Airbnb and online gaming platforms,” ​​records of their meetings show.

Several expert consultants added that it would be difficult to impose common rules on some platforms, such as social media, but not on others operating at the same technological level, such as video game platforms.

The report states that some members of the group felt that “a broad definition would help take into account evolving and emerging technologies to ensure that legislation is future-proof.”

Participants noted that “many times high levels of harmful content, such as terrorist content or child pornography, are shared in private messages rather than public forums, and that eliminating these types of messages will leave a lot of harmful content on the table. ”

Airbnb Protects Itself

San Francisco-based Airbnb said the conversations on its platform are between people booking accommodations and landlords, such as asking for permission to have a dog.

The company said it has a broad and strict anti-discrimination policy. She said to exclude from the list people who do not adhere to it, as well as those associated with extremist groups.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the site suspended the accounts of dozens of users associated with white nationalist groups, including those identified as members of the neo-Nazi forum Iron March, following the disclosure of forum membership.

“Discrimination of any kind, including harassment, bias and racism, has no place on our platform or in our community in Canada and around the world, and we have a strong policy on these issues that is in line with our inclusive values,” he said. Nathan Rothman of Airbnb Canada.

“In the government’s view, this bill is meant to regulate social media platforms, not platforms like Airbnb,” he continues.

In the United States, Harvard Business School researchers studying racial discrimination at Airbnb found that hosts with African-American names were accepted about 16% less often than guests with white names.

Bernie Farber, president of Canada’s Anti-Hate Network and a member of the 12-member group, said Airbnb should be subject to rules aimed at combating online hate as discussions take place about its platform.

The government also asked its advisory group to consider how far the law should go.

“Should interactive services other than social media platforms, such as video game platforms, streaming sites, or crowdfunding platforms, also be included?” reads a document prepared by the government, which indicates possible topics for discussion.

Some members of the commission said the broader reach would include organizations that successfully recruit violent extremists who quickly adapt and “turn to video game services, file-sharing sites and live audio applications.”

Minister Rodriguez’s spokesperson Laura Scaffidi noted that the “Internet Security Advisory Expert Group is empowered to advise the government on how to deal with harmful content on the Internet” and noted that the 12 people in the group have a wide range of opinions and experience.

“We are looking forward to the continuation of the work of the group and the final debriefing,” she added. We’re going to take the time we need to get it right.”


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