Canada lifts ban on reporting early election results to reflect new Twitter reality

After Canadian Twitter users defied a decades-old ban by tweeting last year's election results before polls had closed throughout the country, the government announced Friday, Jan. 13 -- via Twitter, no less -- the repeal of the section of the Canada Elections Act that prohibits the broadcast or transmission of election results before all ballots have been cast, reported the Huffington Post Canada.

Democratic Reform Minister Tim Uppal posted the news in several tweets, saying the government "is committed to bringing Canadian elections into 21st century...by introducing legislation to get rid of the dated ban on early transmission of election results...Canadians should have freedom to communicate about election results without fear of heavy penalty...Paul Bryan should be acknowledged for his advocacy on this issue. #elxnresults."

Software designer Paul Bryan unsuccessfully challenged the law after he was fined for posting partial results from the 2000 election on his blog, explained the Montreal Gazette. Then after last year's election results had been tweeted by thousands of Canadian users, prompting talk of a "social media election," the independent body overseeing national elections in Canada urged the federal government to scrap the 73-year-old ban, arguing "the growing use of social media puts in question not only the practical enforceability of the rule, but also its very intelligibility and usefulness in a world where the distinction between private communication and public transmission is quickly eroding. The time has come for Parliament to consider revoking the current rule."