Digital Transnational Repression

An analysis of proposed and enacted policies and legislation in different jurisdictions that aim to address DTR, with a focus on what can be done here in Canada to better understand and combat this threat.

As online platforms become the new stage for political discussion globally–and as cybersecurity is increasingly becoming a matter of national security–we must consider the aspects of our digital ecosystem that work to undermine democracy. One of these is the role that social media plays in expanding the reach of authoritarians and facilitating their attacks against dissidents and others who they wish to silence. Many political dissidents flee their countries of origin to come to Canada, only to find themselves victims of digital transnational repression (DTR). This paper examines what has been done to address DTR so far in different jurisdictions and what can be done here in Canada to combat this threat. I found that the practices of DTR are already banned under various social media company policies and that many are illegal under Canada's Criminal Code. Even so, enforcement seems to be an ongoing issue. Overall, there has been little-to-no government acknowledgement of DTR across the jurisdictions I reviewed, including here in Canada. The Canadian government needs to first define this threat and then work with our allies to face it.

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