“We should not have to choose between our privacy and our safety”. Carol Todd may very well have spoken for all Canadians when she expressed to the House of Commons the need for increased digital safety, while keeping our citizens information private. Carol was referring to the measured in Bill C-13, which became law midnight March 9th, 2015. While the new law focuses on helping stop the non-consensual spread of intimate images online, many are concerned about its potential violations to privacy.
The Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act law has been referred to by the media as the cyberbullying bill and while controversial, it presents a great opportunity for parents to speak to their children about the consequences of sending or sharing intimate images.
A new law
This morning Justice Minister Peter MacKay spoke about the law at Father John Redmond Catholic High School in Etobicoke. MacKay mentioned the pros and cons of today’s technology and youth’s access to it. “You press a button on your cellphone..and you literally could be contributing to the death of another person”, MacKay stated, referring to the growing number of suicides attributed to cyberbullying, including Canadians Todd Loik, 15, Amanda Todd, 15, and Courtney Brown, 17. The new law will give the Canadian justice system more authority to look into people’s online activity.
What this means?
The full amendment to the Criminal Code can be found here, below are key points from the new law:
- Prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images;
- Empowering a court to order the removal of non-consensual intimate images from the Internet;
- Permitting the court to order forfeiture of the computer, cell phone or other device used in the offence;
- Providing for reimbursement to victims for costs incurred in removing the intimate image from the Internet or elsewhere; and
- Empowering the court to make an order to prevent someone from distributing intimate images.
The offence is punishable by a maximum of five years’ imprisonment on indictment or six months imprisonment on summary conviction.
What is already illegal in relation to cyberbullying?
This isn’t the first cyberbullying related activity that is illegal, currently illegal activities include:
Criminal harassment (section 264);
Uttering threats (section 264.1);
Intimidation (subsection 423(1));
Mischief in relation to data (subsection 430(1.1));
Unauthorized use of computer (section 342.1);
Identity fraud (section 403);
Extortion (section 346);
False messages, indecent or harassing telephone calls (section 372);
Counselling suicide (section 241);
Incitement of hatred (section 319); and,
Defamatory libel (sections 298-301).
The legal repercussions of sexting and spreading intimate images
In addition to providing more clarity around the legal consequences of sharing intimate images online the start of this new law presents a great opportunity for parents to speak about the subject with their children. Kids and their peers are often not fully aware of the legal repercussions of sharing intimate images consensually.
Controversy around bill C-13
The new law is not without controversy. As the bill was passing through parliament, many questions were raised about the level of power it was granting to Canadian authorities and the potential breach of privacy it might create.
Getting help now
NeedHelpNow.ca is an excellent source of information for how to go about getting people to stop sharing your images, having them removed, or finding someone to talk to and help you deal with your situation.
- How to stop your peer and friends from sharing your pictures and videos
- How to get your pictures and videos removed from the internet
Learn more about VISR, their technology which understands kids’ social media communication and alerts you of problematic behaviour, or try it out for free. www.visr.co
By Katy Torgovnikov March 9, 2015