Victims of cyberbullying and unwanted sharing of intimate images now have options for dealing with those who want to harm them.
Today, July 5, Nova Scotia proclaimed the Intimate Images and Cyber-Protection Act. Under this law, Nova Scotians can access supports and pursue alternatives to criminal prosecution.
“While smart technology and social media have enhanced our ability to connect with others, they’ve also increased the reach and impacts of bullying,” said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mark Furey. “We are helping keep people safe online, and protecting victims through strong, fair legislation that strikes the right balance between freedom of expression and public safety.”
Victims and parents are now able to:
— participate in restorative approaches to resolve disputes
— get protection orders for alleged offenders to stop the activity
— request removal of online content
— prohibit further contact
— seek compensation
The act was passed last fall to protect victims of cyberbullying and non-consensual sharing of intimate images. It was developed through consultation with targeted stakeholders – including lawyers, academics, police, CyberScan, Victims’ Services, and Status of Women, families and victims.
Nova Scotia is the first province in Canada to adopt broad legislation addressing cyberbullying and the unwanted sharing of intimate images.
“As we begin to better understand the opportunities and challenges of this technology, it is important that we develop the educational, regulatory and legislative frameworks to help us apply it for good while limiting potential harm,” said Dr. Stan Kutcher, Sun Life Financial chair in adolescent mental health at Dalhousie University. “It is heartening to see our province, with this legislation, leading the way in doing this.”
The CyberScan unit, which was created by the former Cyber Safety Act, continues to help victims understand their options and navigate the justice system.
New regulations clarify the role of the unit in helping victims by:
— allowing staff to advise a potential respondent or their parent or guardian that a complaint has been received
— authorizing staff to offer voluntary dispute resolution services – including assistance, negotiation, mediation and restorative justice approaches to respondents, in addition to victims
— defining the unit’s duties regarding the collection and sharing of personal information, record-keeping and recording requirements
Information materials have also been developed to help explain the legislation, the supports and options available and the steps for seeking resolution.
CyberScan has responded to more than 800 requests for help with cyberbullying and provided over 1000 education sessions in schools.
For more information on cyberbullying and the non-consensual sharing of intimate images and the supports available to victims go to novascotia.ca/cyberscan.
The proclamation of the Intimate Images and Cyber-Protection Act completes the 17 recommendations from the Segal Review to improve responses by police, the Public Prosecution Service, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Education and the justice system to address cases of sexualized violence and cyberbullying of young persons.
The legislation will be reviewed after three years to ensure it is effective addressing cyberbullying.
Source: Media Release