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Government Acted on Commitment to Protect Children from Cyberbullies

OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 12/29/13 -- Department of Justice Canada

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.

Quick Facts


--  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.

Quotes

"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., MP for Central Nova, Minister of Justice and
    Attorney General

"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 Levis-Bellechasse, Minister of Public Safety
    and Emergency Preparedness

Related Products

- 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

Associated Link

- Government Introduces Legislation to Crack Down on Cyberbullying

Internet : www.justice.gc.ca

(English version available)

Suivez-nous sur Twitter (@JusticeCanadaFr), joignez-vous a nous sur Facebook ou visitez notre chaine YouTube.

Backgrounder

Cyberbullying and Non-consensual Distribution of Intimate Images

Bullying and Cyberbullying

Bullying, including cyberbullying, is a form of aggression, usually among children and youth but not always. When the bullying behaviour occurs via electronic means, it is often referred to as cyberbullying.

Bullying, including cyberbullying, can take many forms. Some forms, such as name-calling, teasing, belittling and social exclusion, are common and may be hurtful but are not criminal offences. However, bullying and cyberbullying conduct can escalate to more serious activities that are criminal offences under the Criminal Code, including 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 a 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), child pornography (section 163.1), and defamatory libel (sections 298-301).

More recently, a new form of cyberbullying has emerged that is not covered by the criminal law. It involves the distribution of intimate (sexual) images without the consent of the person depicted in the image. Sometimes the motivation is to take revenge on a former partner (this is sometimes colloquially referred to as "revenge porn"). Young people are increasingly exchanging intimate images consensually. This may become a problem if those images later become fodder for humiliating cyberbullying attacks involving non-consensual distribution

Impact of Cyberbullying

Bullies have been around throughout history, but the widespread use of new communications technologies increases the potential impact of bullying behaviour. Bullies can now expand their audience from the schoolyard to around the globe. Once the bullying conduct is in cyberspace, it may be permanently available over the Internet, where it can spread quickly and often uncontrollably. This may compound feelings of fear, humiliation, and social isolation and have other negative effects on victims. There have been several reported cases of teen suicide where cyberbullying is alleged to have played a part.

Finding Solutions

At their October 2012 meeting, Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for Justice and Public Safety directed senior officials to identify potential gaps in the Criminal Code on cyberbullying and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. The results of that review were published in a report in July 2013. The report concluded that a multi-pronged approach was needed to address cyberbullying. In addition to education, public awareness, and family and community support, the report recommended that the Criminal Code be amended to address certain gaps in the law and give law enforcement officers better tools to deal with the issue.

Proposed Criminal Code Amendments

In November 2013, the federal Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. This Bill proposes several Criminal Code amendments to address bullying, including cyberbullying, more effectively. These proposed amendments are based largely on recommendations in the working group's report.

For example, the Bill proposes to:


--  Create a new Criminal Code offence prohibiting the distribution of
    intimate images of a person without that person's consent;

--  Empower a court to order the removal of intimate images from the
    Internet;

--  Permit a court to order forfeiture of the computer, cell phone or other
    device used in the offence;

--  Permit the reimbursement to victims, upon conviction of the accused, for
    costs incurred in removing the intimate image from the Internet or
    elsewhere; and

--  Empower a court to make an order to prevent someone from distributing
    intimate images.

For purposes of the Criminal Code, "intimate image" would be defined as an image that depicts a person engaged in explicit sexual activity or that depicts a sexual organ, anal region or breast. Further, the image would be one for which, at the time of the recording, the person depicted had a reasonable expectation of privacy and, at the time of the offence, had not relinquished his or her privacy interest.

The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code would also modernize existing investigative powers to enable police to obtain electronic evidence from the Internet and other new technologies more efficiently and effectively. However, nothing in this Bill would require a person to provide the police with information without an appropriate level of judicial oversight. See Backgrounder: Modernizing the Criminal Code, for more information on the proposed investigative measures.

Other Actions

Bullying is also being addressed through non-legislative means, including education, awareness and prevention activities. This reflects the fact that bullying is a social problem that needs comprehensive responses from schools, non-government organizations, the police, and community groups. For example:


--  The Government is currently supporting the development of a number of
    school-based projects to prevent bullying, as part of $10 million that
    was committed in 2012 towards new crime prevention projects.

--  Through the Government's GetCyberSafe campaign, Canadians can get the
    information they need to protect themselves and their families against
    online threats, including cyberbullying.

--  The Government also supports the Canadian Centre for Child Protection,
    which operates Cybertip.ca and NeedHelpNow.ca, websites that Canadians
    can use to report online sexual exploitation of children and to seek
    help for exploitation resulting from the sharing of sexual images.

Contacts:
Paloma Aguilar
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-4621

Media Relations Office
Department of Justice
613-957-4207

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