A sweeping and watershed cyberbulling bill introduced by Justice Minister Peter Mackay will make it a criminal offense to distribute “intimate images” without a person’s consent. The bill defines “intimate images” as videos or photographs where the subject is nude, exposing themselves or engaged in explicit sexual activity.
The bill will also expand police wiretapping powers and give them new tools to investigate Internet crimes without infringing on privacy rights. The failure to overcome privacy concerns has crippled law enforcement efforts in clamping down on criminal behaviour in the digital realm.
The Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act includes many of the recommendations made by a tripartite government committee comprised of territorial, provincial and federal justice and safety ministers – who published their findings in a July report.
The new bill will also enable the judge to consider prohibiting those convicted of the offense from using the Internet for a period of time; authorize judges to remove images from websites and pay restitution to cover cost of removing images; and empower courts to seize and order the forfeiture of property related to the offence, like computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones.
After the well-publicized suicide of cyberbullying victim, Rehtaeh Parsons, the issue was fast-tracked through the courts. The new Criminal Code offence will cover “intimate images” which show an individual who is engaged in explicit sexual activity or depicts a sex organ, anal region or breast. If convicted, the offence will carry a maximum of five years in prison and face an internet ban, except under terms specified by the courts.
McKay emphasized that the criminal justice system needs to be modernized to deal with a new wave of digital crimes. The proposed bill will streamline the process of obtaining warrants to intercept private communications, enable the tracking of individuals and transactions if a crime is suspected. The bill also referenced terrorism, organized crime and theft of telecommunications. Despite the seemingly broad scope of the legislation, it is specific in nature and meant to punish those who harass, intimidate and slander online.
Edward Prutschi, a legal analyst and criminal lawyer at Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman, was a guest on CTV News to discuss the proposed bill and discusses how digital activity can result in a criminal charges, in this fascinating clip. Mr. Prutschi and the partners and associates of Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman have a history of successfully defending clients who have been charged with criminal activity on the Internet or computer crimes, including child pornography charges.
If you have been criminally charged with cyberbulling or any other Internet or computer crimes, call the criminal lawyers of Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman for legal representation.