There are now serious consequences associated with sharing images and information online without consent.
Offenders can spend up to five years in prison, lose the right to use their devices and ordered to compensate the victim to have the material sent out removed.
Toronto Sex Crimes investigators Detective Sergeant Kim Gross and Detective Constable Michele Bond joined federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay at an Etobicoke high school on March 9 for the launch of the Conservative government’s anti-cyberbullying legislation, which is now law.
Bill C-13, also known as Protecting Canadian from Online Crime Act, was introduced on November 20, 2013.
“It comes under the title of cyberbullying, but involves the non-consensual distribution of images,” Mackay told the students. “What that means is that if you send material of another person without consent that is of a sexual nature, this is a criminal offence now, punishable on indictment by five years in prison. So there are very serious consequences for this because the effects are so far-reaching, harmful and damaging to another individual.
“Previously, technology could hide the identity of people who sent the material and police, in some cases, were prohibited from following through on an investigation to see who was responsible. Those negative consequences can be devastating for young people, so much so that we have a number of young people in Canada who felt so hopeless, so trapped, so completely alone, that they took their own lives. That’s just how serious it is.”
Detective Sergeant Gross said education is the key to the success of the law.
“We can’t charge our way out of this,” she said, of young people sharing sexual images. “We have to educate young people to make better decisions for them to understand what it is they are getting into, so that they don’t end up before the courts. That’s not the idea here and, hopefully, they get the message.”
MacKay said the new law is about privacy and a person being able to protect their own integrity, which includes images of themselves.
“Your generation, and the one that is coming behind, will be the most informed, most intelligent generation that the world has even seen,” he said. “That’s in large part because of this information that’s right there at your fingertips, which is awesome. The power to be able to access that information is also a bit scary because of some of the information that’s also accessible and the ability for it to travel at the speed of lightning. It happens instantaneously as you know. The good news is that you have access to that incredible, incredible resource…There is a dark side to technology.
“…With this new bill, we are ensuring that our justice system, that means police, courts, probation and everyone that works in the overall security of our country, are working together and using technology in a way that’s responsible.”