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‘Deepfakes’ and disinformation should fall under online hate law: advisory panel



OTTAWA — Disinformation, including “deepfake” videos and bots spreading deception, should come within the scope of a future online harms bill, say a panel of experts appointed by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez to help him shape a future law.

Members of the expert panel, including Bernie Farber of the Canada Anti-Hate Network and Lianna McDonald of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, have advised that the act impose a duty on tech giants to tackle the spread of fake news and videos.

Some suggested Canada should mirror the European Union’s Digital Services Act which allows for stronger action to tackle disinformation in times of crisis — for example during elections, international conflicts and public-health emergencies.

They said the EU measure related to attempts by Russia to spread false claims to justify the invasion of Ukraine.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said in an interview that technology was now so sophisticated that some fake images and content were “virtually indistinguishable” from genuine content, making it very difficult for people to tell the difference.

He said a “whole-government approach” spanning several departments was needed to tackle the spread of disinformation in Canada.

“We are at a crucial juncture in our public discourse. We are seeing an increasing amount of misinformation and disinformation informed by extremist ideology,” he said.

An analysis by academics of over six million tweets and retweets — and their origins — found that Canada is being targeted by Russia to influence public opinion here.

The study by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy this month found that huge numbers of tweets and retweets about the war in Ukraine can be traced back to Russia and China, with even more tweets expressing pro-Russian sentiment traced to the United States.

Ministers have announced their intention to bring in an online harms bill which would tackle online abuse — including racist slurs, antisemitism and offensive statements aimed at members of the LGBTQ community.

It follows the publication of a previous online hate bill just before the federal election last year. The bill did not become law.

The expert panel, which also includes law and policy professors from across the country, said not only should a bill tackle online abuse, including child abuse, it should consider fake and misleading information online. This could include co-ordinated disinformation campaigns “leveraged to create, spread, and amplify disinformation” including the use of bots, bot networks, inauthentic accounts, and “deepfakes.”

“Deepfakes” are fake videos or photos that use deep learning technology, which creates highly realistic-looking counterfeit images.

Some experts on the panel said the bill should also address false advertising, misleading political communications and content that contributes to “unrealistic body image.”

The panel said platforms would have a “duty to act” to address “harmful content online, which includes disinformation, by conducting risk assessments of content that can cause significant physical or psychological harm to individuals.”

Some experts on the panel warned that measures to address disinformation must be carefully worded so it cannot be abused by governments to justify censorship of journalism or criticism.

Their warning was echoed by Emmett Macfarlane, a constitutional expert at the University of Waterloo.

“There are always valid concerns about the potential for overreach and unintended consequences flowing from these sorts of laws. Our existing criminal hate speech and obscenity laws have resulted in material being unjustly restricted or blocked at the border, for example,” he said.

The 12-person panel of experts, which has just finished its work, said disinformation and fake posts could pose higher risks to children.

They have recommended that the bill impose strict requirements on social media companies and other platforms to remove content featuring or promoting child abuse and exploitation.

A few of members criticized platforms for failing to take such content down immediately, saying, “the current performance of online services in removing child sexual abuse material is unacceptably poor.”

The panel was critical of platforms in general for saying what percentage of harmful content they take down, but not how long it took to remove it.

Rodriguez thanked the panel for completing their discussions last week, saying “their advice is essential in crafting a legislative and regulatory framework to address this complex issue and help create a safe space online that protects all Canadians.”

“Freedom of expression is at the core of everything we do, and Canadians should be able to express themselves freely and openly without fear of harm online and our government is committed to taking the time to get this right,” he said.

The minister also thanked the Citizens Assembly, a group of 45 Canadians looking at the impact of digital technology on democracy, for its advice. At a conference last week, the assembly also stressed the importance of addressing the spread of disinformation online, saying it can manipulate public opinion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2022.


Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press


‘McGregor-Mayweather rematch in the making’



Los Angeles, United States of America (USA)- has reported that Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather are in discussions over holding a second bout.

Mayweather beat McGregor in their huge clash back in June 2017 but McGregor has hinted at a possible rematch in a post on his Instagram account.

The UFC superstar posted a cryptic post hinting at a second bout by sharing a picture of their 2017 clash and writing, “I accept.”

However, it’s uncertain as to whether a rematch between the pair would be another exhibition bout, or whether Mayweather would make it one more professional fight.

Meanwhile, YouTuber, Jake Paul, has repeatedly claimed that Mayweather still hasn’t paid him following last year’s exhibition bout. Their eight-round exhibition bout went to a draw as Mayweather was unable to knockout Paul, “Floyd Mayweather is broke. I have been saying it all the time. I think he probably spent it on the girls he pays to be around him. He’s hard to hit, but even harder to collect money from. Who should I fight next?”

However, Mayweather has since dismissed the accusations claiming that Paul has suggested that the pair should have a second exhibition bout.

“This is the guy who said he didn’t get paid, which we know is truly false, which is why I don’t entertain the bull*** a lot of the time. We know he got paid and if he didn’t get paid he wouldn’t be trying to get another payday. It is so crazy that Logan Paul wants to do an exhibition again but it is the same guy that said he didn’t get paid. It is what it is,” said Mayweather.

Mayweather was expected to earn US$64 million from the fight, with Logan receiving US$18.5 million of the purse.

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G7: Canada to elevate small Commonwealth nations' concerns – CTV News



KIGALI, Rwanda –

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau headed to the G7 summit in Germany on Saturday without a consensus from the Commonwealth to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but with a chorus of countries calling for help to overcome the fallout of the war.

Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been dominated by the concerns of nations that are suffering from food scarcity. Trudeau departed for the G7 talk slater in the day.

In the final communique from the Commonwealth summit, the 54 participating countries said they discussed the conflict in Ukraine, ” underscored the need to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” and ” emphasized that all countries must seek peaceful resolution to all disputes in accordance with international law.”

The countries stopped short of condemning Russia, as Trudeau and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson have done throughout the summit.

“I can assure you that the topic of standing up for Ukraine was much discussed,” Trudeau said at a press conference following the conclusion of the summit, referencing “strong language” in the communique.

Most Commonwealth Nations condemned Russia’s actions at a United Nations vote in March, but 10 abstained. Among them was India, whose Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted not to attend the Commonwealth summit and instead spoke virtually with the leaders of Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa.

Trudeau said Russian President Vladimir Putin has run a disinformation campaign and has even been “telling outright lies,” including blaming the food security crisis on Western sanctions against Russia.

He said food shortage stems from Russia’s illegal actions, including blockade at key ports, as well as the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian grain storage facilities through cruise missile strikes.

“I was very clear with our friends and partners around the table, and not just clear on Russia’s responsibility, but on how Canada and the West are stepping up,” Trudeau said.

Canada will be raising the growing threat of famine at the G7 in Schloss Elmau Germany, Joly said.

She said Canada was in “listening mode” at the Commonwealth meetings, where leaders of smaller nations were able to speak without the dominating presence of the United States, Russia and China.

“What is clear to us is that Russia is weaponizing food and putting a toll on many countries around the world, and putting 50 million lives at risk,” Joly told reporters Friday in Rwanda.

Trudeau had attempted to meet with the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for several days during the Commonwealth summit but the sit-down was repeatedly postponed and eventually cancelled.

Shortly after Trudeau arrived in Rwanda, the government announced Canada would dedicate a new ambassador to the African Union, which has suffered from the food shortages inflicted on the continent as a result of the warin Ukraine.

Both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin have met with representatives of the African Union, with Russia blaming sanctions against its government for stopping the flow of grain.

At the conclusion of the Commonwealth summit, Trudeau announced $94 million in funding for various education initiatives and $120 million to support gender equality and women’s rights in Commonwealth countries.

Some of the other voices the prime minister has promised to centre at his international meetings, including the G7 summit,

belong to youth leaders who spoke at a Saturday-morning event focused on issues facing young people around the world.

Some of the delegates spoke about the devastating effects of climate change, particularly around remote island nations where infrastructure cannot withstand natural disasters and rebuilding efforts take years. The onslaught takes a toll on education and health services, one delegate told the forum.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

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New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays – Global News



The federal government has created a special task force to help tackle the major delays with immigration applications and passport processing that have left Canadians frustrated.

In a statement announcing the new task force, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government knows the delays are unacceptable, and will continue to do everything it can to improve the delivery of the services in an efficient and timely manner.

Read more:

Passport renewal wait times now online as Ottawa looks to address long lineups

Trudeau said the new task force will help guide the government to better meet the changing needs of Canadians, and continue to provide them with the high-quality services they need and deserve.

Ten cabinet members will spearhead the new committee, which will review how services are delivered, and identify gaps and areas for improvement.

Click to play video: 'New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog'

New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog

New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog – Jun 15, 2022

The committee will be expected to make recommendations outlining short- and longer-term solutions that would reduce wait times, clear out backlogs, and improve the overall quality of services provided.

Read more:

Canadian passport delays are frustrating travellers. What’s the fix?

In addition, the task force will monitor external issues, such as labour shortages around the world, which contribute to travel delays at home and abroad.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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