We live in an era of online disinformation. In the blink of an eye, any person can share a lie online with hundreds of people; within hours, that lie may have been seen by thousands or millions. Though the threat of online “echo chambers” has been exaggerated, the danger of online disinformation to informed voting has not. Each Canadian voter has a Charter right to be reasonably informed about candidates running for election, but online disinformation is threatening that right. The government of Canada may have a positive duty to protect this right; at the very least, it is a matter of good governance to counteract online disinformation. This obligation, however, is complicated by Canada’s ratification of CUSMA. Under article 19.17(2) of CUSMA, Canada has agreed to not pass laws that hold thirty-party platforms liable for content, including disinformation, posted on their websites. Article 19.17(2), however, must be interpreted narrowly in order to protection section 3 rights: though Canada cannot pass laws that hold thirty-platforms liable for user-generated content, it may create laws that hold such platforms liable for failure to remove user-generated disinformation. There are several tools the Canadian government may utilize to enforce such laws and combat disinformation generally.
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(2021) 30 Dal J Leg Stud 63