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The Liberal government’s online harms bill would create a new regulator for illegal content with sweeping powers that critics say raise concerns about secret proceedings and Canadians’ charter rights. The Digital Safety Commissioner of Canada would be in charge of enforcing rules requiring online platforms to remove illegal content. Its authority would include the ability to send inspectors into workplaces and homes in search for documents, software, and information such as computer algorithms. Inspectors would need a warrant or consent to go into homes. “This looks like a possible section 8, right against unreasonable search and seizure violation,” said Joanna Baron, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation. “Leaving aside questions of constitutionality, I’m not sure if raids on Facebook offices are going to yield the desired result,” said University of Ottawa law professor Vivek Krishnamurthy. “It’s hard to think of a case that you couldn’t make the claim would be covered by those interests, and so this is giving very broad latitude to order in-camera hearings, which normally should be exceptional, should be like state secrets,” Baron said.

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