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Bill S-203

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Second Session, Forty-third Parliament,
69-70 Elizabeth II, 2020-2021
SENATE OF CANADA
BILL S-203
An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material
AS PASSED
BY THE SENATE
June 28, 2021
4322013


SUMMARY

This enactment makes it an offence to make sexually explicit material available to young persons on the Internet. It also enables a designated enforcement authority to take steps to prevent sexually explicit material from being made available to young persons on the Internet in Canada.
Available on the Senate of Canada website at the following address:
www.sencanada.ca/en


2nd Session, 43rd Parliament,
69-70 Elizabeth II, 2020-2021
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 designated under section 3. (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)

Designation of Minister

Order designating Minister
3The Governor in Council may, by order, designate any federal minister as the Minister responsible for this Act.

Purpose

Purpose
4The 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
5Every 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.
6If 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
7A 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 prosecuted for the offence under this Act.
Defence — age verification
8(1)It is not a defence to a charge under section 5 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 5 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
9If a person is convicted of an offence under section 5, 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.

Enforcement

Designation
10The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, designate an agency, division or branch of the Government of Canada as the enforcement authority for the purposes of sections 11 and 12.
Notice
11(1)If the enforcement authority has reasonable grounds to believe that a person committed an offence under section 5, the enforcement authority may issue a notice to them under this section.
Content of notice
(2)The notice must state
(a)the identity of the person;
(b)that the enforcement authority has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed an offence under section 5;
(c)the steps that the enforcement authority considers necessary to ensure compliance with this Act;
(d)that the person must, within 20 days after the notice is issued, take the steps referred to in paragraph (c);
(e)that, if the person fails to take the steps referred to in paragraph (c) within the period set out in paragraph (d), the enforcement authority may apply to the Federal Court for an order requiring Internet service providers to prevent access to the sexually explicit material to young persons on the Internet in Canada; and
(f)that the person may make representations to the enforcement authority in relation to any element of the notice within the period set out in paragraph (d).
Application to Federal Court
12(1)If a person who receives a notice under subsection 11(1) fails to take the steps referred to in paragraph 11(2)‍(c) within the period set out in paragraph 11(2)‍(d), the enforcement authority may, within 20 days after the day on which the period ended, apply to the Federal Court for an order requiring Internet service providers to prevent access to the sexually explicit material to young persons on the Internet in Canada.
Respondent
(2)The enforcement authority that applies for an order under subsection (1) must name, in addition to the non-complying person, any Internet service provider who would be subject to the order as a respondent to the proceedings.
Hearing in summary way
(3)An application made under subsection (1) is to be heard and determined in a summary way in accordance with any special rules in respect of such application under section 46 of the Federal Courts Act.
Order
(4)The Federal Court must order any respondent Internet service providers to prevent access to the sexually explicit material to young persons on the Internet in Canada if it determines that
(a)there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person who has been given notice under subsection 11(1) has committed the offence referred to in section 5;
(b)that person has failed to take the steps referred to in paragraph 11(2)‍(c) within the period set out in paragraph 11(2)‍(d); and
(c)the services provided by the Internet service providers who would be subject to the order may be used, in Canada, to access the sexually explicit material made available by that person.
Effect of order
(5)If the Federal Court determines that it is necessary to ensure that the sexually explicit material is not made available to young persons on the Internet in Canada, an order made under subsection (4) may have the effect of preventing persons in Canada from being able to access
(a)material other than sexually explicit material made available by the person who has been given notice under subsection 11(1); or
(b)sexually explicit material made available by the person who has been given notice under subsection 11(1) even if the person seeking to access the material is not a young person.

Annual Report to Parliament

Annual report
13The Minister must cause to be tabled in each House of Parliament, within three months after the end of the fiscal year or, if a House is not then sitting, on any of the first 15 days on which that House next sits, a report on the administration and implementation of this Act. The report must include, for the previous fiscal year,
(a)the number of notices issued under subsection 11(1);
(b)the number of applications for an order under subsection 12(1); and
(c)the outcome of applications made pursuant to subsection 12(1).

Regulations

Regulations
14The Governor in Council may make regulations for carrying out the purposes and provisions of this Act, including regulations prescribing the age-verification methods referred to in subsection 8(1).

Coming into Force

Coming into Force
15This 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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