Government Introduces Legislation to Crack Down on Cyberbullying

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OTTAWA, November 20, 2013 – The Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Central Nova, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today introduced legislation to address criminal behaviour associated with cyberbullying. This legislation demonstrates the Government's firm commitment to ensuring that Canadians are better protected against online exploitation. Minister MacKay was joined by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

"Our Government is committed to ensuring that our children are safe from online predators and from online exploitation. We have an obligation to help put an end to harmful online harassment and exploitation. Cyberbullying goes far beyond schoolyard bullying and, in some cases, can cross the line into criminal activity," said Minister Mackay. "With the click of a computer mouse, a person can be victimized before the entire world. As we have seen far too often, such conduct can destroy lives. It clearly demands a stronger criminal justice response, and we intend to provide one."

The legislation being introduced today would:

  • Prohibit the non-consensual distribution of intimate images;
  • Empower a court to order the removal of intimate images from the Internet;
  • Permit the court to order forfeiture of the computer, cell phone or other device used in the offence;
  • Provide for reimbursement to victims for costs incurred in removing the intimate image from the Internet or elsewhere; and
  • Empower the court to make an order to prevent someone from distributing intimate images.

The proposed investigative powers to identify and remedy this and other cybercrimes would be subject to appropriate judicial oversight.

The Government worked closely with the provinces and territories in developing the report and recommendations on which this legislation is closely based.

"With this legislation, we are confirming that this type of behaviour is absolutely unacceptable and has serious consequences," added Minister Blaney. "As part of Bullying Awareness Week, we are committed to reminding victims that they are not alone, and encouraging them to reach out to a teacher, a trusted adult, a parent or a friend. Bullying – whether online or off – is a problem that affects us all, and we all have a role to play in stopping it."

Working with partners in the public and private sectors, the Government of Canada is taking action to address all forms of bullying through education, awareness and prevention activities.

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

Other important projects that the Government supports to address cyberbullying include the Cybertip.ca and NeedHelpNow.ca websites operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Canadians can use these websites to report online sexual exploitation of children and to seek help for exploitation resulting from the sharing of sexual images.

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

For more information on Bullying Awareness Week, please visit the website www.bullyingawarenessweek.org.

Backgrounder: Cyberbullying and the Non-Consensual distribution of Intimate Images

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