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Greens pledge to regulate tech giants to ensure only ‘verifiable identities’ on platforms

Are verified social media accounts on your list of concerns that you want candidates to tackle? #cdnpoli #elxn43

2019-09-17 7:27:00 PM

Are verified social media accounts on your list of concerns that you want candidates to tackle? cdnpoli elxn43

Is it possible for a government to enact this type of regulation, and would it actually address the problems the Greens have referenced? Global News asked three experts.

Story continues below In its election platform released on Monday — the first (non-costed) platform to come out in the campaign — the party pledged to “regulate Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to ensure that only actual people, with verifiable identities, are able to publish on those platforms.”

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“Those who spam, spread misinformation with the intent to manipulate public thinking or threaten and harass others should be held accountable for their actions, and we should do more to protect underage minors from adult content online than require them to check a box saying that they are of age,” the Green Party said in a statement to Global News.

WATCH (Sept. 16, 2019): May outlines how she plans to pay for promises in Green Party platformAsked how, exactly, it would regulate social media companies in this way, the party said: “People should have some right to protect their identities online and to remain anonymous across the public spaces of the social web. But there still needs to be accountability so this would require some form of secure digital identity to be implemented.”

‘The details of a plan like that would matter a lot’All three experts interviewed by Global News agreed that a government could technically enact regulation forcing tech companies to screen their users for verifiable identities, but they questioned whether that would be the correct or most effective approach to addressing the problems the Greens referenced.

For starters, the idea of “quasi-licensing” social media users is a proposed solution to an early discussion in the Canadian context, according to Michael Geist and Elizabeth Dubois, two professors at the University of Ottawa.“I’m not sure we’re there yet,” said Geist, a law professor and Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law. “I think we’re starting to see the platforms take more aggressive approaches in terms of seeking to enforce some of their terms.

“I think there’s a consensus that more needs to be done but I’m not sure the mandated collection of identities by these large platforms is needed or is the right solution.”WATCH (Sept. 11, 2019): Green Leader Elizabeth May launches election campaignThat kind of regulation would also come with a number of risks, according to Geist and Dubois, who is an assistant professor with the University of Ottawa’s communication department. It might hurt individuals “in marginalized positions in our society,” including people who have been subjected to harassment both on- and offline, Dubois argued.

“The verifiable identity idea is something that is commonly used to talk about how we deal with things like hate speech or spreading of disinformation. But it’s one that does not have as clear a link to improving privacy of individuals,” she said, adding that some people, perhaps legitimately, don’t want to share personal information with multinational companies “where there is a history of data breaches and hacking.”

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READ MORE: Over 600,000 Canadians’ Facebook data shared with Cambridge Analytica in data leak If a government chose to enforce verifiable identities among social media users in some way, Dubois argued: “The details of a plan like that would matter a lot.”

“In particular, it makes a substantial difference who would be responsible for collecting and ensuring the security of identification information and whether or not pseudonyms would be permissible under such a framework,” she said.Geist added whistleblowers to the list of those who benefit from anonymity online, arguing there are circumstances “where anonymous accounts serve real value.”

Legislating an outright ban on anonymous behaviour or accounts on social media platforms would be particularly risky and “would likely face a legal challenge” by civil liberties groups, Geist said.“There have been certainly some arguments around a right to anonymity within the law,” Geist said.

READ MORE: YouTube pulls 210 channels linked to Hong Kong protests influence campaign Brett Caraway, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, cast doubt on whether regulation like what the Greens are proposing would even be effective.

“The only thing that Canada could do is regulate within its own jurisdiction,” Caraway said. “And a significant number of fake accounts are, of course, coming from outside of Canada.”‘It’s good to see these issues becoming part of the campaign’Caraway said that current privacy legislation in Canada is more focused on limiting what private organizations can do with the user information it collects, adding that the Greens’ proposal is almost a swing “in the opposite direction.”

“It tells them what [private companies] have to collect, which is interesting to me. It’s kind of antithetical to the original spirit of the internet, if there was one,” Caraway said.DECISION CANADA: Promises Trudeau, Scheer, Singh, May and Blanchet have made

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Geist noted “there is a certain amount of irony” in the proposal, given citizens and governments are currently seized with and scrutinizing the extent of the personal information that major tech companies are collecting, as well how they’re using it and how well they’re protecting it.

Still, “it’s good to see these issues becoming part of the campaign,” Geist added.“Regulating the internet is a hot issue right now,” he said.“There’s no doubt these are really important issues that … merit debate and, in some instances, will merit real regulation.”

Global News reached out to the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party to ask how they would tackle the issue, respectively.In a statement, the NDP called the Green Party’s pledge “irresponsible” and argued it would “punish users instead of actually tackling the problem.”

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the 2019 federal leaders’ debates “We’re committed to protecting Canadians’ privacy, fair competition in the digital market and tackling hate speech and disinformation online,” the statement read. “We would act on the all-party recommendations of the parliamentary ethics committee and create serious regulations and strict requirements for the big platforms to crack down on hate speech and disinformation and better protect privacy while opening the door to competition by allowing for users to take their data with them between competing platforms and other measures.”

For their part, the Liberals didn’t specify exactly what the party would do if it formed government again.“We take cyber threats to our democracy very seriously, including fake or anonymous social media accounts used to interfere with our democratic institutions. That’s why we’ve put in place a plan to prepare and respond to the threat and have ensured the government of Canada mobilizes government-wide expertise to anticipate, recognize and respond to these threats,” the statement said.

“Canadians expect social media platforms to address issues like cybersecurity and the spread of disinformation by demonstrating greater transparency — and a re-elected Liberal government will continue to hold them to account.” READ MORE: Several tech giants sign onto Canadian declaration on electoral integrity

This spring, the Liberal government asked tech giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google to sign a declaration promising a dozen initiatives to protect the integrity of the Canadian election this fall. One of those initiatives was removing fake social media accounts.

On May 27, Karina Gould — then minister of democratic institutions — said regulation would inevitably come if tech giants didn’t follow through on the commitments in the declaration.Global News asked the Liberal Party whether that would still be its intention but didn’t receive a response by deadline.

Global News will update this article if it hears back from the Conservative Party.— With files from the Canadian Press Read more: Globalnews.ca »

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I finally Joined social media at 47. I thought it would be fun to mess with the liberals a bit. I'm most likely going to quit social media because all I see is hate, decisiveness and trying to silence voices. It's a very sad state of affairs and so much hateand anger is unhealthy 770CHQR Even though I'm comfortable, so far, with sharing my real life identity social media this should not, as a rule, be demanded of all social media platform users.

Serious? CanadianGreens ElizabethMay want a dictatorship system ? What about Freedom of speech ? elxn43 polcan cdnpoli MaximeBernier AndrewScheer How about gas prices or here’s one, cost of food! Only being able to use social media if you give a social security number? They’d lose all their users. Phone number is already a stretch

What this tells me is that the Greens have a ordinary soccer mom's understanding of how technology works and a pretty rudimentary understanding of how misinformation is spread. This is stupid....there are plenty of reasons for anonymous accounts that have nothing to do with trying to trick people. Second, right now I can put my account at my real name...Fred Smith, does that make you feel better? it shouldn't my name isn't Fred Smith.

Elizabeth May pitches Greens as holding balance of power in minority governmentThe Green Party of Canada says every policy in its platform -- from the economy to health, foreign affairs, immigration and transportation -- is viewed through the lens of the climate crisis. Yuuuup.... just like in BC. Guess my opinion on that! 😡 They will still be useless when Sheer and the Conservatives win a majority. drunken Liz

Elizabeth May unveils Green Party platformGreen Leader Elizabeth May urged Canadians to 'vote for what you want' as she unveiled her party's platform in Toronto. Watch her full statement here: cdnpoli elxn43 We don't want any Nutbars in Office ! Liz May has one goal. Just one. Take as many VOTES away from the Liberal party as possible. Free tuition? Puleese. But if it can steal away a vote...throw it out there. Did she mention China? We need to stop buying their cheap crap and buy higher quality made in Canada. Sure it will be more expensive but we will get it fixed instead of throwing it away. Win win , more jobs less global pollution.

A list of some of the Green Party's promisesThe Green Party released its platform Monday, with a focus on climate and reconciliation. Most of these I agree with, implementation will be impossible though so good luck with that.

LIVE: Green Party lays out party platformWATCH LIVE: Green Party Leader May launches the party's platform: cdnpoli elxn43 Someone get her more ice for her drink pisstank She is going to end the oil & gas & mining industries and increase the housing industry. Anyone have any experience in digging caves or building mud huts?

Evening Update: The latest on arrested intelligence official Cameron Ortis; U.S. says attack on Saudi oil facilities came from Iran or IraqElection 2019: Bernier to join leaders’ debates; Greens unveil platform; Liberals vow child-care support Must have some BIG batteries on these drones! The attack almost certainly came from the within Saudi Arabia, probably from the Eastern Province. To suggest otherwise is dim witted. Attack on Saudi lol facilities came from the Globe and Mail. Press freedom applies to everyone, where's my colum? Why would anyone believe the US intelligence service? Been there before. That war is still going on. Give world domination a rest US. Stay out of it.

Green platform proposes help for energy workers displaced under aggressive climate planGreen platform proposes help for energy workers displaced under aggressive climate plan GlobePolitics globepolitics Gonna stop sendinf their taxed money to other provinces via equalization until the region most affected has transitioned to a solid economy? globepolitics Very foggy plan.