Nova Scotia Seeks to Improve Cyber-Bullying Law

The government of Canadian province Nova Scotia is seeking public feedback on improving anti-cyber-bullying legislation enacted in July 2018.

Nova Scotia was the first Canadian province to enact a detailed law addressing cyber-bullying and the unauthorized sharing of sexually explicit imagery.

The law, known as the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act, was created to discourage individuals from bullying others via the internet, over email or through text messages. It further sought to dissuade people from sharing intimate images of individuals without their consent.

Under the Cyber-protection Act, cyber-bullying victims and their families are permitted to participate in dispute resolution programs and can get protection orders issued against alleged offenders to cease their cyber-bullying activities. The law also allows victims and their families to request the deletion of online content, to prohibit further contact, and to seek compensation for their virtual harassment. 

The Cyber-protection Act also established the CyberScan Unit that helps cyber-harassment victims navigate the justice system and comprehend their options. Since its launch four years ago, the CyberScan unit has helped victims in 660 cases.

Built into the law is a mandate for Canada’s justice minister to review its implementation and submit a report on their findings to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly within four years.

“We want to help keep people safe online, so it is important that we review the legislation to ensure that it remains effective,” said justice minister and attorney general Brad Johns.

He added: “The feedback we receive will be valuable in helping us see where we can improve the legislation.”

The consultation phase for the review of the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act began on January 6. It was kicked off with the creation of an online survey designed to capture public sentiment surrounding the law. 

This survey is open to Nova Scotians aged 16 or older. Submissions for the survey must be completed by January 28.

In concert with the survey will be a series of virtual focus group sessions run with various stakeholders, including victims and their families, provincial victim-services staff, judges, police, lawyers, scholars and advocates.

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