Legislation would make it illegal to send intimate images without consent of the person captured.
The Conservative federal government introduced a bill in Parliament this afternoon aimed at amending the criminal code and combating cyberbullying.
This bill would make it illegal to send intimate — or indecent — images electronically without the explicit consent of the person in the picture.
The Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, which targets the criminal behaviour associated with cyberbullying, was initiated by the federal government following a string of suicides across Canada related to such abuse.
The legislation follows the attempted suicide that led to the death of Rehtaeh Parsons of Cole Harbour– an alleged rape victim who was cyber bullied. Stricter legislation that gives victims the ability to sue alleged cyberbullies was enacted in Nova Scotia this summer.
“The legislative measures that we have just introduced to protect Canadians against cyber bullying will give our system additional tools to deal more efficiently and effectively with these criminal acts,” said Justice Minister Peter MacKay in his bullying awareness announcement.
The new preventative measures would:
- Prohibit the non-consensual distribution of intimate images
- Empower a court to order the removal of intimate images from the Internet
- Permit the court to order forfeiture of the computer, cell phone or other device used in the offence
- Provide for reimbursement to victims for costs incurred in removing the intimate image from the Internet or elsewhere; and
- Empower the court to make an order to prevent someone from distributing intimate images.
“This bill will also modernize the investigative powers in the criminal code in order that police and crown attorneys have new tools through which more effectively to tackle cyber bullying and other cyber crimes,” MacKay said.
Judicial controls would monitor these new investigative tools to help police investigate criminal activities involving electronic communications – warrants would need to be issued.
Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced the bill with MacKay today, saying Ottawa has a number of crime prevention school projects allocated as part of a $10-million envelope issued in 2012.
Other government initiatives include the Youth Justices Fund – giving $390,000 to provinces and territories to support projects combating cyber bullying that could reach criminal conduct.
Lianna McDonald, director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, operates cybertip.ca and said, “We’ve seen first hand and all too often the collision between sexual exploitation, technology and bullying.”
More than 100,000 reports of sexual assault or cyber intimidation have been made in the last 10 years.