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Bill S-203

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Second Session, Forty-third Parliament,
69 Elizabeth II, 2020
SENATE OF CANADA
BILL S-203
An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material
FIRST READING, September 30, 2020
THE HONOURABLE SENATOR Miville-Dechêne
4322013


SUMMARY

This enactment makes it an offence to make sexually explicit material available to young persons on the Internet. It also enables the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to require that steps be taken by Internet service providers to prevent sexually explicit material from being made available to young persons on the Internet.
Available on the Senate of Canada website at the following address:
www.sencanada.ca/en


2nd Session, 43rd Parliament,
69 Elizabeth II, 2020
SENATE OF CANADA
BILL S-203
An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material

Preamble
Whereas sexually explicit material — including demeaning material and material depicting sexual violence — can be easily accessed on the Internet by young persons;

Whereas a significant proportion of the sexually explicit material accessed online is made available on the Internet for commercial purposes and is not protected by any effective age-verification method;
Whereas the consumption of sexually explicit material by young persons is associated with a range of serious harms, including the development of pornography addiction, the reinforcement of gender stereotypes and the development of attitudes favourable to harassment and violence — including sexual harassment and sexual violence — particularly against women;
Whereas Parliament recognizes that the harmful effect of the increasing accessibility of sexually explicit material online for young persons is an important public health and public safety concern;
Whereas online age-verification technology is increasingly sophisticated and can now effectively ascertain the age of users without breaching their privacy rights;
And whereas anyone making sexually explicit material available on the Internet for commercial purposes has a responsibility to ensure that it is not accessed by young persons;
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Short title
1This Act may be cited as the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act.

Interpretation

Definitions
2The following definitions apply in this Act.
Internet service provider means a person who provides Internet access, Internet content hosting or electronic mail. (fournisseur de services Internet)
making available includes transmitting, distributing or selling. (rendre accessible)
Minister means the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. (ministre)
obscene material includes any material a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely crime, horror, cruelty and violence. (matériel obscène)
prescribed means prescribed by regulations. (Version anglaise seulement)
sexually explicit material means sexually explicit material as defined for the purpose of subsection 171.‍1(1) of the Criminal Code. (matériel sexuellement explicite)
young person means an individual who is under 18 years of age. (jeune)

Purpose

Purpose
3The purpose of this Act is to protect public health and public safety and, in particular, to
(a)protect the mental health of young persons by restricting their access to sexually explicit material;
(b) protect Canadians — in particular, young persons and women — from the harmful effects of the exposure of young persons to sexually explicit material, including demeaning material and material depicting sexual violence; and
(c)deter anyone who makes sexually explicit material available on the Internet for commercial purposes from allowing young persons to access that material.

Offence

Making sexually explicit material available to a young person
4Every person who, for commercial purposes, makes available sexually explicit material on the Internet to a young person is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable,
(a)in the case of an individual,
(i)for a first offence, to a fine of not more than $10,000, and
(ii)for a second or subsequent offence, to a fine of not more than $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both; and
(b)in the case of a corporation,
(i)for a first offence, to a fine of not more than $250,000, and
(ii)for a second or subsequent offence, to a fine of not more than $500,000.
Liability of officers, directors, etc.
5If a corporation commits an offence under this Act, any director, officer or agent or mandatary of the corporation who directed, authorized, assented to, acquiesced in or participated in the commission of the offence is a party to and guilty of the offence and liable on conviction to the punishment provided for the offence, whether or not the corporation has been prosecuted or convicted.
Offence by employee or agent or mandatary
6A person is liable for an offence that is committed by the person’s employee or their agent or mandatary who is acting in the course of the employee’s employment or within the scope of the agent or mandatary’s authority, whether or not the employee or the agent or mandatary who actually committed the offence is identified or proceeded for the offence under this Act.
Defence — age verification
7(1)It is not a defence to a charge under section 4 that the accused believed that the young person referred to in that paragraph was at least 18 years of age unless the accused implemented a prescribed age-verification method to limit access to the sexually explicit material made available for commercial purposes to individuals who are at least 18 years of age.
Defence — legitimate purpose
(2)No person shall be convicted of an offence under section 4 if the act that is alleged to constitute the offence has a legitimate purpose related to science, medicine, education or the arts.
Aggravating circumstance — obscene material
8If a person is convicted of an offence under section 4, the court imposing the sentence on the person must consider as an aggravating circumstance the fact that the material made available for commercial purposes to young persons is obscene material.

Notice to Internet Service Providers

Notice
9(1)If the Minister has reasonable grounds to believe a person has committed the offence referred to in section 4, the Minister may give a notice under this section to any Internet service provider.
Content of notice
(2)The notice must
(a)identify, in a manner that the Minister considers appropriate, the non-complying person;
(b)indicate that the Minister has reasonable grounds to believe the person has committed the offence referred to in section 4;
(c)require the Internet service provider to take any steps specified in the notice;
(d)provide any information that, in the Minister’s opinion, may assist the Internet service provider in complying with any requirement imposed by the notice;
(e)specify the time by which the Internet service provider must have complied with any requirement imposed by the notice;
(f)inform the Internet service provider that non-compliance with any requirement set out in the notice constitutes a violation and is liable to a penalty under section 10;
(g)in the case of a notice other than a notice of a decision to revoke a notice, specify the circumstances in which the Minister may revoke the notice and the manner in which the non-complying person may notify the Minister of steps taken to satisfy the Minister that the notice ought to be revoked; and
(h) provide any further particulars that the Minister considers appropriate.
Steps specified in the notice may prevent access to other material
(3)The steps that may be specified under paragraph (2)‍(c) may include steps that have the effect of preventing persons in Canada from being able to access material other than sexually explicit material when using the service provided by the Internet service provider.
Information provided to users
(4)The notice may require the Internet service provider to provide information specified in the notice, in a manner specified in the notice, to persons in Canada who
(a)attempt to access the sexually explicit material when using the service provided by the provider; and
(b)are prevented from doing so as a result of steps taken by the provider that are required by the notice.
Variation and revocation
(5)The notice may be varied or revoked by a further notice given under subsection (1).
Minister may publish notice
(6)The Minister may publish on their departmental website a notice given under subsection (1).
Administrative monetary penalty
10(1)Any Internet service provider that fails to comply with any requirement set out in a notice referred to in paragraph 9(2)‍(c) commits a violation and is liable to a penalty of an amount to be determined in accordance regulations made under paragraph 11(c).
Purpose of penalty
(2)The purpose of a penalty is to promote compliance with the Act and not to punish.

Regulations

Regulations
11The Governor in Council may make regulations for carrying out the purposes and provisions of this Act, including regulations
(a)specifying the circumstances in which sexually explicit material is or is not to be regarded as made available for commercial purposes, including circumstances in which sexually explicit material made available free of charge is or is not to be regarded as made available for commercial purposes;
(b)prescribing the age-verification methods referred to in subsection 7(1); and
(c)fixing a penalty or range of penalties in respect of a violation referred to in subsection 10(1).

Coming into Force

Coming into Force
12This Act comes into force on the first anniversary of the day on which it receives royal assent.
Published under authority of the Senate of Canada

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