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Archived - Seizure of Terrorist Propaganda

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In order to restrict the ability of terrorist organizations to spread terrorist propaganda in Canada for the purpose of radicalizing individuals and obtaining new recruits, the proposed legislation would create a tool in the Criminal Code to give the courts the authority to order the removal of terrorist propaganda, including from the internet. All seizures would require a judicial order.

Such materials would include any materials that promote or encourage acts of terrorism against Canadians in general, or the commission of a specific attack against Canadians. This measure would complement the proposed “promotion of terrorism” offence, and would allow the removal of terrorist propaganda even if the origins of the content are unknown and no criminal charges have been laid in relation to the material.

The new measures are similar to laws that already exist in the United Kingdom, Australia and other allies. For example, the United Kingdom model, which allows for the takedown of websites and social media feeds, has been in existence since 2006. In Australia, complaints about on-line content are made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). If the ACMA determines that the content is restricted, that is, it incites violence or advocates a terrorist act, it issues a notice and take down order to the service provider. Canada’s proposed legislation would be part of a global effort to hamper the ability of terrorist groups to spread their propaganda for the purpose of radicalizing vulnerable individuals. 
Currently, the Criminal Code authorizes a court to order the seizure and forfeiture of materials related to child pornography and hate propaganda. It also authorizes a court to order the website owner or an Internet service provider in its jurisdiction to delete the material, including by taking down a website. There are currently no such provisions in relation to terrorist propaganda.

The proposed legislation would create two new warrants-of-seizure in the Criminal Code to apply to terrorist propaganda. Material that counsels the commission of a terrorism offence or that advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general would be considered terrorist propaganda material.   

The provisions would allow a judge to order the seizure of terrorist propaganda that is printed or is in the form of audio recordings. They would also allow a judge to order the removal of terrorist propaganda when it is in electronic form and made available to the public through a Canadian Internet service provider.

These changes are similar to existing provisions in the Criminal Code that allow for the seizure of forms of material that is deemed criminal in nature, such as hate propaganda and child pornography.

As is currently the case for hate propaganda material, Attorney General consent would be a pre-condition for initiating a proceeding for either of these warrants. This would ensure that issues of public interest are taken into account, such as protecting freedom of speech.

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JANUARY 2015
Department of Justice Canada


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