December 29, 2013, Ottawa, Ontario – This year, as promised in the 2013 Speech from the Throne, the Government took a major step towards protecting children and other vulnerable Canadians from cyberbullying by introducing Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act.
Following the suicides of several teenagers who had reportedly been victims of cyberbullying, many Canadians have urged the Government to take action to address this serious problem. At the same time, many law enforcement agencies have expressed the need for more effective tools to deal with cybercrime, including cyberbullying. A working group of Federal-Provincial-Territorial officials has examined the issue of cyberbullying to identify actions that could be taken. The provisions in Bill C-13 are based closely on recommendations in the working group’s report.
The proposed measured response to cyberbullying in Bill C-13 has received strong support from victims’ families and from several organizations dealing with child protection.
- The Bill proposes to address the issue of cyberbullying by:
- Creating a new Criminal Code offence to prohibit the distribution of intimate images of a person without that person’s consent;
- Empowering a court to order the removal of intimate images from the Internet;
- Permitting a court to order forfeiture of the computer, cell phone or other device used in the offence;
- Permitting the reimbursement to victims, upon conviction of the accused, for costs incurred in removing the intimate image from the Internet or elsewhere; and
- Empowering a court to make an order to prevent someone from distributing intimate images.
- The Bill would modernize tools to give police the necessary means to fight crime, including the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, while maintaining the judicial checks and balances needed to protect Canadians’ privacy.
- To protect privacy, nothing in this Bill will require a person to provide information to the police without an appropriate level of judicial oversight. In fact, Bill C-13 proposes raising the level of judicial scrutiny for obtaining a warrant to track a person, as the Government felt that the current level of scrutiny was insufficient.
- The Bill also updates an existing provision in the law to clarify that information may still be provided voluntarily to police provided there are no legal barriers against it. Those who provide such assistance will continue to be protected from liability.
“Cyberbullying can have a devastating and life-long impact on its victims. Canadians have demanded action to address this serious issue and our Government is delivering,” said Minister MacKay. “The legislation we have introduced is comprehensive and intends to modernize the laws to give police the tools they need to effectively investigate and combat online crime.”
– Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Central Nova, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“Cyberbullying is an issue that affects us all and demands that Canadians work together to put an end to it. This legislation is an important step in protecting our children online. Along with our current prevention, education and awareness-raising efforts, we are taking clear action to tackle cyberbullying.”
– Steven Blaney, P.C., MP for Lévis-Bellechasse, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
- Cyberbullying and the Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images
- Op-ed article on cyberbullying legislation by Minister Peter MacKay
- Fact Sheet : Privacy Protection and the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
- Backgrounder: Modernizing the Criminal Code
- Myths and Facts: Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act