Published on March 11, 2024

Child typing on a laptop Child looking upset Child holding a cellular phone

As we entered 2024, the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) continued its campaign in support of Senator Julie Miville-Duchêne's Bill S210 “an act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material”. The NCWC, following our call out to our members (collectives and individuals) to write to their local MP expressing support for the Bill, then launched an ongoing two prong campaign:

  • An Open Letter for organizations to sign:
  • An Online Petition - for individuals to also be able to participate actively in this campaign

Both these initiatives call for the members of the House of Commons to promptly pass Bill S210 that calls for age verification measures using certified third-party providers to lower the risk of premature and inadvertent exposure to pornography by children and youth.

Bill S210 Formal Update: On December 13th, Bill S-210, An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material, that had been unanimously passed in the Senate in April of 2023, was read a second time in the House of Commons. Following the reading a vote was taken. All the Opposition Parties, along with 15 Liberal MPs, voted in favour of the Bill being referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Committee deliberations are unlikely to be scheduled until the end of April at the earliest.

The Bill is facing challenges - including circulating misinformation about the Bill. For a concrete understanding of the Bill, beyond your own reading of it, please refer to this site, which among other challenges includes information addressing questions of privacy from Canadian and International experts in digital technologies.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The "new" Online Harms Bill C-63, introduced in late February, is facing its own criticisms-notably around freedom of speech. It's summary states that it is directed to promoting "the online safety of persons in Canada, (and) reduce harms caused to persons in Canada as a result of harmful content online." While, we certainly welcome those provisions that help mitigate some of the risks faced by children online, there's a crucial does NOT address protecting children from exposure to pornography online. This, despite the documented and known harm premature exposure has on our children. In doing so, the Bill ignores the fact Canadians- who, not only expect, respect and support laws limiting minors' access to sexually explicit material in the offline world- are overwhelmingly in support of age verification when it comes to accessing porn online.

Poll Results

WE as citizens have a " duty to protect" our children - It is our hope that - with your help - S210 will prevail, and that robust, secure age-verification measures will be implemented-not only to protect children and youth, but to further Canada's alignment with the Convention on the rights of the Child.

Submitted by
Penny Rankin Past President of the MCW
VP Children and Youth NCWC

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