Anti-cyberbullying law, Bill C-13, now in effect
Published Monday, March 9, 2015 9:36AM EDT
The Conservative government’s anti-cyberbullying legislation, Bill C-13, is now in effect.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay officially announced the new law at a high school in Etobicoke, Ont., on Monday, where he spoke to students about the “dark side” of technology.
Bill C-13 was first introduced on Nov. 20, 2013. The Conservative government says the legislation will combat online harassment by making it illegal to distribute intimate images of a person without their consent.
MacKay said Monday, that the goal of Bill C-13 is to make Canadians, especially young people, safer while allowing them to protect their “personal integrity” when it comes to sharing images and information online.
MacKay said the consequences of sharing intimate and inappropriate images can be “devastating,” noting that some young people have taken their own lives after such photos were circulated.
“You press a button on your cellphone…you literally could be contributing to the death of another person,” MacKay told students who attended Monday’s announcement.
But some critics say the legislation could violate citizens’ privacy because it also gives authorities more powers to investigate what Canadians are doing online.
Under the new law, police only need “reasonable grounds for suspicion” to get a warrant to obtain information about an Internet user.
Carol Todd, whose daughter Amanda Todd died in 2012, told a Commons Justice committee last May that she wasn’t against the bill, but was troubled by certain portions of it.
Amanda, 15, died by suicide after she was blackmailed and harassed over an intimate photo that was posted online.
“We should not have to choose between privacy and our safety,” her mother told the committee.
Others, including law experts, have pointed out that the pre-existing Criminal Code provisions already prohibit the dissemination of sexual images of children and youth.
MacKay has previously said that, without the ability to “pre-emptively prevent online crime,” Bill C-13 won’t be effective.