Showing posts with label Cyber-safety Act (Nova Scotia). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cyber-safety Act (Nova Scotia). Show all posts

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cyberbullying legislation and freedom of expression

I was invited to lead a discussion at the Canadian Centre for Ethics and Public Affairs on Nova Scotia's cyberbullying legislation and its impact on freedom of expression. It was part of their "everyday ethics" series. Though it was much more of a discussion than a presentation with powerpoint, did did prepare the below presentation which may be of interest to readers of this blog. Feel free to share it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More details about Nova Scotia's first cyberbullying prevention order

Yesterday, I blogged about the first cyberbullying prevention order issued under Nova Scotia's Cyber-safety Act. (See: Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Nova Scotia court issues first cyberbullying prevention order.)

At that point, all I had to go on was the media reporting. Since then, I've managed to get my mitts on the Order of Justice Robertson, the brief filed by the Nova Scotia Director of Public Safety, the affidavit of Chief Paul, and the affidavit of CyberScan Unit enforcement officer Dana Bowden. No copy of actual decision or reasoning of the judge is available. Hopefully that will be released shortly.

In the past, I've been critical of the over-breadth of the Cyber-safety Act and its definition of cyberbullying that can capture legitimate speech that is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Most of the reporting on this case focused on comments that were characterised as harassing. The crown attorney went even further:

Crown attorney Angela Jones told the court that the comments made by Prosper were “defamatory, vulgar, … abusive and obscene.”

[None of the comments that I saw met the legal definition of "obscene".]

However, the contents of the affidavit seem to tell a different tale. While certainly the communications that were alleged to have been made by the respondent were what I would call unpleasant, sometimes vulgar and certainly repeated, it also appears to be rooted in questions related to the management of the finances of the Pictou Island First Nation overseen by the complainant. I didn't see any attempt anywhere in the documents to do anything less than shut the respondent down completely. The CyberScan investigator met with the respondent and told him to stop all of his communications with the Chief, not to tone it down.

While this is the first such order, it's a bit disheartening that a statute with the potential to dramatically chill constitutionally protected speech doesn't seem to be applied in a manner to temper this overreach, as was the case when a constituent of Nova Scotia MLA Lenore Zahn was told by the CyberScan Unit to remove tweets that questioned her judgement.

Nova Scotia court issues first cyberbullying prevention order

A judge of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has issued the first "Cyberbullying prevention order" under the province's Cyber-safety Act.

The case, as it has been reported, appears to be a classic case of online harassment where the victim reportedly received numerous threatening messages through Facebook. When the user was "blocked", he then repeatedly communicated with the victim's children conveying threatening messages. I haven't seen the actual order yet, but it reportedly orders him to stop "cyberbullying" and communicating with or about the victim.

One additional point that's worth pondering is that the respondent to the order, who did not appear, is in Ontario which may make enforcing this order under Nova Scotia's unique law a challenge.

From Global TV (the link will also take you to a video where I was interviewed):

Nova Scotia court issues first cyberbullying prevention order - Halifax |

HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has imposed a cyberbullying prevention order on a man who was accused of using Facebook to post threatening and defamatory statements about the chief of a First Nation.

The order is the first imposed by a court under the province’s Cyber-safety Act and involves allegations made by Andrea Paul, chief of the Pictou Landing First Nation.

She alleges Christopher George Prosper posted abusive and obscene comments about her and her family on Facebook last year.

Paul says she contacted the province’s CyberSCAN unit, which is the first of its kind in the country to be tasked with investigating complaints of cyberbullying.

Judge Heather Robertson told a Halifax courtroom that she was satisfied this was a case of cyberbullying under the act, saying Prosper’s actions hurt Paul’s reputation and psychological well-being.

David Fraser, a privacy lawyer with the McInnes Cooper firm in Halifax, says Nova Scotia’s cyberbullying legislation is ultimately doomed to fail.

“There is … a very real possibility that this legislation could be used to chill charter-protected speech, the ability of individuals to express themselves, the ability of individuals to be critical of their government, of public officials,” he said.

Fraser believes the bill will be challenged in the near future.

The court order is imposed for one year and it says Prosper must remove all messages deemed to be cyberbullying, refrain from contacting Paul and stop cyberbullying.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Getting the facts straight as we rush to legislate cyberbullying

Over the past number of months, Halifax Chronicle Herald reporter Selena Ross has been researching the failure of the authorities to lay any charges in the Rehtaeh Parsons case (until political pressure resulted in the case being reopened). This past week, she published her findings into the police investigation and the crown's refusal to lay charges. The fact that it has taken months to get this level of information speaks volumes. They also make depressing reading.

The tragedies of Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd galvanized attention on the issue and lawmakers have swung into action by passing laws to address it. First, we saw the Cyber-safety Act in Nova Scotia and more recently the federal Conservative government introduced Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. The Nova Scotia statute creates a CyberScan unit, headed by a former cop, to investigate cyberbullying, allows for anti-cyberbullying orders and allows victims (with their parents permission) to sue cyberbullies. The proposed federal legislation makes it a crime to distribute intimate images without consent.

When these laws were introduced, there was much self-congratulatory back slapping about how we are finally doing something, with the clear implication that these laws would have saved the lives of Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd, if only they’d been in effect earlier. That is simply not true.

Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd died because the police and the prosecutors did not use the laws that existed to seriously investigate the crimes that they were already the victims of. Making up new crimes may be a useful endeavour, but saying that it was the absence of laws like these that was responsible for these horrendous tragedies is an outright lie.

Amanda Todd was the victim of extortion, harassment, and child pornography at the hands of an adult online and her peers. All of these were crimes the day she was born and continued to be crimes the day that she died. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police failed to investigate, failed to prosecute and failed to give her hope for justice. The British Columbia agencies charged with protecting children in the province failed her as well.

Rehtaeh Parsons was the victim of sexual assault, harassment, child pornography and voyeurism offences at the hands of her peers. All of these (other than the voyeurism offence) were crimes the day she was born and and all were crimes the day that she died. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Halifax Regional Police Service failed to adequately investigate, failed to prosecute and failed to give her hope for justice.

Instead of stepping up and taking responsibility for the horrendous failure of those who are charged with protecting children, investigating and prosecuting crimes, police agencies and the politicians to whom they report have shrewdly deflected the attention of the media and the public towards new initiatives under the clear implication that it was the absence of these laws that failed these two young women.

While both laws (with their flaws) fill an important legal void as far as cyberbullying is concerned, the principal benefit to be derived from these laws is likely that it gives authorities fewer excuses to do nothing when children are the victims of such crimes.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nova Scotia politician alleges cyberbullying, calls the authorities on tweeting teen

I wrote, some time ago, that Nova Scotia's Cyber-safety Act is poorly written, infringes freedom of expression and may be abused. I am afraid to report that I was right. An old cliché says that bad cases make bad law, but we are seeing how a bad law is leading to a bad case.

In the first publicised case referred to the CyberSCAN Units established under the province's Cyber Safety Act, a Nova Scotia politician has called the authorities after a teenager tweeted a topless but public image of the politician. (See: Lenore Zann, L Word actor turned MLA, alleges cyberbullying - Nova Scotia - CBC News and Lenore Zann, actress turned Nova Scotia MLA, launches cyberbullying investigation after teen tweets nude image of her from The L Word | National Post). Apparently Lenore Zann previously appeared topless in the cable TV program "The L Word" and a quick look using your favourite search engine will turn up images. So I'm told.

Not only did the thin-skinned politician call the CyberSCAN Unit on the young fellow, she called his parents, his school principal and the police. And I would say that she also engaged in cyberbullying him. (Not that this is new ... her previous retweets would likely hurt Rob Ford's feelings, too.)

To make it even worse, she called the cybercops on another person who had the temerity to question her judgement in responding to this. The cybercops called him and told him to take down his tweets. I find this incredibly troubling.

The problem with the law is what it captures within the incredibly broad definition of "cyberbullying":

(b) "cyberbullying" means any electronic communication through the use of technology including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, computers, other electronic devices, social networks, text messaging, instant messaging, websites and electronic mail, typically repeated or with continuing effect, that is intended or ought reasonably be expected to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to another person's health, emotional well-being, self-esteem or reputation, and includes assisting or encouraging such communication in any way;

Yup, anything that you do online that hurts someone's self-esteem or their reputation is cyberbullying. Did what this kid do (or was reported to have done) qualify as cyberbullying under this law? Perhaps. Did what she did qualify as cyberbullying? Yup.

Some have suggested that the law has to be so broad to capture all the harmful conduct and we should leave it to the courts and the cybercops to use their judgement in how it is applied. I'm sorry, but as soon as an employee of the government of Nova Scotia picks up the phone and tells a citizen to remove Charter protected speech from the internet, that crosses the line. That goes waaaaay over the line. Canadians have an absolute right to speak truth to power. Canadians have an obligation to call out politicians on hypocrisy and idiocy. An elected official like Lenore Zann, before publicly admonishing a minor, should educate herself about "copyrwite (sic) law", fair dealing and the criminal code. (A bit of free advice: Bill C-12 isn't the law yet and an image taken on a sound stage surrounded by a filming crew for the purpose of international broadcast on cable television likely does not qualify as an intimate image "in respect of which, at the time of the recording, there were circumstances that gave rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy".)

The tragedy is that cyberbullying is a real problem and Lenore Zann is turning this into a farce. The CyberSCAN Unit has a starring role in this farce. The previous government passed a law that is offensive to freedom of expression which will ultimately get struck down and will leave the real victims of cyberbullying with one fewer remedy.

At the risk of having the cybercops calling me (here's my number):

  • The government that jammed this defective law through the legislature without reflection and debate, solely to deflect attention away from police and prosecution failures in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons was contemptible,
  • Lenore Zann is too thin-skinned and has displayed a lack of judgement that makes her unqualified to be an elected official,
  • Lenore Zann comparing herself to Rehtaeh Parsons is OUTRAGEOUS, and
  • if a member of the Cyber Safety Unit actually phoned a citizen and told him to delete a tweet, the Cyber Safety Unit is complicit in this.

And who is going to lose? Freedom of expression and actual victims of cyberbullying. And that's a damn shame.

Update: Here's this evening's CBC TV coverage of the story, including an interview with me. It starts at 7:17.

Friday, August 16, 2013

New cyberbullying law half-baked

I was asked to write an opinion piece for the Chronicle Herald, setting out my concerns about Nova Scotia's new Cyber-safety Act. It's in today's paper:

New cyberbullying law half-baked | The Chronicle Herald

One would have to have the hardest of hearts to be unaffected by the Rehtaeh Parsons tragedy. I have seen firsthand the devastating effect of cyberbullying and my firm is very proud to have taken the case of a young victim to the Supreme Court of Canada to protect her from further torment.

It is also a very human impulse to want to do something — anything — to make sure that nobody else is victimized again. Unfortunately, the wake of a tragedy is never a good time to make good law, and that’s unfortunately the case with the province’s Cyber-safety Act. The act was drafted in the heated, emotional time immediately after Ms. Parsons’ death and jammed through the legislature with no critical examination and discussion. Comments from interested groups were not solicited and anyone who would have wanted to suggest improvements was caught flat-footed by the hasty way it sailed through committee.

And as of this past week, most of it is the law of the province.

Cyberbullying seems to be like obscenity — it is very difficult to define, but we know it when we see it. However, definitions matter in the law.

In this particular law, the net has been cast so wide that it is likely unconstitutional. The most significant problem is with the definition of “cyberbullying,” which includes electronic communications that do or would be expected to harm someone’s self-esteem or reputation.

That bar is so low that most politicians’ Twitter feeds are littered with cyberbullying. Satirists and editorial cartoonists — if they’re any good — are cyberbullies in Nova Scotia. Protecting self-esteem may be sensible when dealing exclusively with minor victims, but it must be remembered that this law and the flawed definition apply regardless of age.

I spoke critically of the act when it was first introduced and the premier told CBC he “couldn’t disagree with me more.” It hurt my feelings. If he were to say that today on Facebook or Twitter, I could call him a cyberbully and sue him. I have a thick skin and will not be suing anyone who simply disagrees with me, but I find it troubling that I can seek damages for such speech in the same province where Joe Howe argued for, and won, our fundamental rights of free expression.

Surely, it cannot have been the legislature’s intention to lump legitimate satire, political speech and fair comment in with the shaming Ms. Parsons experienced, by calling it all “cyberbullying.” That’s what they did, unfortunately, and that’s why it’s unconstitutional. According to the Supreme Court, any infringement of freedom of expression needs to be justifiable and cannot impair the right more than is necessary to accomplish the legitimate legislative objectives.

In other words, it must be precisely targeted and not overbroad. A law that does not “minimally impair” Charter-protected speech rights cannot be justified and is of no force and effect. Including satire, fair comment and legitimate political speech would be overreaching that imperils the entire statute.

The legislature also made a mistake by not giving courts more guidance on how cyberbullying protection orders should be used. The list of remedies is extensive, ranging from a simple order not to be a cyberbully to the confiscation of electronic devices and forcing the alleged bully back to the pre-electronic age.

The legislature did not say that the more draconian orders should be reserved for the most serious of cases or that the more extreme measures should only be used when the lesser ones have failed.

To make it worse, if the bully were harassing his or her victim using a school computer, an order as written in the act could cut the entire school off from the Internet.

While the legislature has made it very easy to get over-reaching orders, it also took away most of the avenues of judicial review that would act as a check on these powers. The warrantless investigative powers given to the CyberSCAN units would make Vic Toews jealous and, as a result, the evidence they obtain might be useless in a criminal prosecution.

The legislature has actually done a disservice to those they desperately want to help by hastily passing a law that will likely be struck down when the first victims go to the courts seeking assistance.

I expect it will be traumatic to the victims to not only have their cases thrown out, but to have the entire law designed to protect them declared to be unconstitutional.

An unconstitutional law is merely window-dressing and — when struck down — it’s an embarrassment. If the government really wants to protect victims of harmful cyberbullying, it should take this law back to the drawing board and do it right.

David Fraser is an Internet and privacy lawyer with McInnes Cooper in Halifax who has acted as legal counsel to victims and online service providers in cases of cyberbullying. These opinions are personal and should not be attributed to the firm or its clients.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Nova Scotia cyberbullying law now mostly in effect

Nova Scotia's Cyber-safety Act, which was jammed through the legislature with little debate, has been partially proclaimed into force today. In particular, the portions dealing with the new statutory tort of cyberbullying and anti-cyberbullying orders are now the law. It is expected that the new CyberSCAN units will be mobilised and deployed in the fall.

For more background, check out previous blog postings on the topic: Cyber-safety Act (Nova Scotia).

From the provincial government:

Province Offers More Protection for Cyberbullying Victims |

Province Offers More Protection for Cyberbullying Victims

August 7, 2013 10:20 AM

Victims of cyberbullying now have more places to turn as Nova Scotia leads the country with new cyber-safety laws.

Justice Minister Ross Landry announced today, Aug. 7, people can seek a protection order from the court or sue if they, or their child, is being cyberbullied. The protections are part of the new Cyber-safety Act to protect victims and hold cyberbullies accountable for their actions.

"Too many young people and their families are being hurt by cyberbullies," said Mr. Landry. "I committed to families that the province would work with them to better protect our children and young people. Court orders, and the ability to sue, are more tools that help put a stop to this destructive behaviour.

"This sends a clear message, cyberbullying is a serious act with serious consequences. Think before you text."

The parts of the Cyber-safety Act effective today allow victims to apply through the Justice of the Peace centre for a protection order that could place restrictions on, or help identify, the cyberbully. Victims can also sue the cyberbully, whose parents can be held liable for damages if the cyberbully is a minor.

"We've all been affected by cyberbullying, whether it has happened to us or someone we know or we've just seen it online," said Chantel O'Brien, a member of the province's Youth Advisory Council. "These amendments will be a wake-up call to those who think they can hide behind a computer to avoid being held accountable. It's reassuring to see the government taking action to ensure youth can feel safe in their own homes."

New changes to the Education Act clarify the role of principals in acting when this issue affects schools. They now have a clear responsibility to respond, even to incidents of bullying and cyberbullying that occur beyond the school ground or after school hours.

The CyberSCAN unit, the first in Canada, is the final piece of the Cyber-safety Act. The unit will be running in September. Roger Merrick, the unit's director, is hiring five investigators who will investigate all complaints of cyberbullying, whether the victim is a minor or an adult.

In addition to the new civil laws, Premier Dexter led discussions on actions to address cyberbullying at Council of the Federation meetings in July. Premiers acknowledged his national leadership and endorsed initiatives he brought to the table such as strengthening the criminal code to make distributing intimate images without consent a crime.

The province has also committed to an independent review by out-of-province experts into the Public Prosecutions Service and police actions in the Rehtaeh Parsons case. The review will begin after the criminal investigation is complete.

For more information about the Cyber-safety Act, go to

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Analysis of the Nova Scotia Anti-Cyberbullying legislation

As I blogged yesterday, the Nova Scotia provincial government has tabled a bill in the provincial legislature to address cyberbullying. The Bill, dubbed the Cyber-safety Act, does a number of notable things. Notably, it is not limited to protecting minors from cyberbullying and is equally available to adult and child victims.

It must be borne in mind that the Bill has only just been tabled, so it may be amended as it works its way though the legislature and its committees.

It the Bill, cyberbullying is defined:

(b) "cyberbullying" means any electronic communication through the use of technology including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, computers, other electronic devices, social networks, text messaging, instant messaging, websites and electronic mail, typically repeated or with continuing effect, that is intended or ought reasonably be expected to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to another person's health, emotional well-being, self-esteem or reputation, and includes assisting or encouraging such communication in any way;

Interestingly, the Bill deems some parents to be cyberbullies themselves if they don't do enough to prevent their minor children from engaging in cyberbullying:

(2) For the purpose of this Act, w here a person who is a minor engages in an activity that is cyberbullying and a parent of the person

(a) knows of the activity;

(b) knows or ought reasonably to expect the activity to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to another person's health, emotional well-being, self-esteem or reputation; and

(c) fails to take steps to prevent the activity from continuing,

the parent engages in cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying Protection Orders

First of all, the Bill creates "cyberbullying protection orders", which are orders issued by the courts to require an individual to cease activities that will be prescribed in the order. The order can be broad or narrow, and the bill gives the courts wide latitude:

9 (1) A protection order may include any of the following provisions that the justice considers necessary or advisable for the protection of the subject:

(a) a provision prohibiting the respondent from engaging in cyberbullying;

(b) a provision restricting or prohibiting the respondent from, directly or indirectly, communicating with or contacting the subject or a specified person;

(c) a provision restricting or prohibiting the respondent from, directly or indirectly, communicating about the subject or a specified person;

(d) a provision prohibiting or restricting the respondent from using a specified or any means of electronic communication;

(e) an order confiscating, for a specified period or permanently, any electronic device capable of connecting to an Internet Protocol address associated with the respondent or used by the respondent for cyberbullying;

(f) an order requiring the respondent to discontinue receiving service from an Internet service provider;

(g) any other provision that the justice considers necessary or advisable for the protection of the subject.

One thing that I find very interesting -- and disappointing -- is that if the victim is a minor, he or she cannot seek such an order him or herself. His or her parents have to seek the order on their behalf. One would think that at least older teenagers should be able to help themselves, even if their parents don't want to get involved.

A new tort of cyberbullying

Next, the Bill creates a brand-new tort of cyberbullying, which gives a victim of cyberbullying the right to sue in the civil courts for damages. This part is pretty short on details, so I expect the provincial government is leaving it to the courts to sort out.

21 A person who subjects another person to cyberbullying commits a tort against that person.

22 (1) In an action for cyberbullying, the Court may

(a) award damages to the plaintiff, including general, special, aggravated and punitive damages;

(b) issue an injunction on such terms and with such conditions as the Court determines appropriate in the circumstances; and

(c) make any other order that the Court considers just and reasonable in the circumstances.

(2) In awarding damages in an action for cyberbullying, the Court shall have regard to all of the circumstances of the case, including

(a) any particular vulnerabilities of the plaintiff;

(b) all aspects of the conduct of the defendant; and

(c) the nature of any existing relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant.

In addition, the Bill makes the parents of a minor cyberbully jointly and severally liable for all the damages unless the parents are able to show due diligence. It is understandable that the government would include this provision, since young cyberbullies likely do not have any assets of their own (making a civil lawsuit futile) and to perhaps dip into the homeowners or renters insurance policies that parents may have.

(3) Where the defendant is a minor, a parent of the defendant is jointly and severally liable for any damages awarded to the plaintiff unless the parent satisfies the Court that the parent was exercising reasonable supervision over the defendant at the time the defendant engaged in the activity that caused the loss or damage and made reasonable efforts to prevent or discourage the defendant from engaging in the kind of activity that resulted in the loss or damage.

(4) For the purpose of subsection (3), in determining whether a parent exercised reasonable supervision over the defendant at the time the defendant engaged in the activity that caused the loss or damage or made reasonable efforts to prevent or discourage the defendant from engaging in the kind of activity that resulted in the loss or damage, the Court may consider

(a) the age of the defendant;

(b) the prior conduct of the defendant;

(c) the physical and mental capacity of the defendant;

(d) any psychological or other medical disorders of the defendant;

(e) whether the defendant used an electronic device supplied by the parent, for the activity;

(f) any conditions imposed by the parent on the use by the defendant of an electronic device;

(g) whether the defendant was under the direct supervision of the parent at the time when the defendant engaged in the activity;

(h) in the event that the defendant was not under the direct supervision of the parent at the time at the time when the defendant engaged in the activity, whether the parent acted unreasonably in failing to make reasonable arrangements for the supervision of the defendant; and

(i) any other matter that the Court considers relevant.

The tort of cyberbullying would be in addition to any other causes of action that might be brought to bear, including defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Powers given to the Director of Public Safety

The provincial government has promised, as part of this legislation, to create a specialized unit to combat cyberbullying. This is being done as amendments to the existing Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act. This Act has generally been used to deal with crackhouses and the like, but an additional part allows for the designation of "Directors of Public Safety" who will have particular powers to investigate and respond to cyberbullying. (To show how this Act is amended by the bill, I've created a Google doc that shows the proposed changes.)

The Director is given the power to investigate cyberbullying and can seek the assistance of the courts to unmask anonymous miscreants. Once identified, the Director can make an application to the court for a cyberbullying prevention order. The prevention orders are very similar to the protection orders outlined above (I'm not sure why it is duplicated in the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act and the Cyber-safety Act).

It is an offense to defy such an order when issued.

Amendments to the Education Act

The Bill also proposes amendments to the existing Education Act. First of all, it adds the promotion and encouragement of safe and respectful electronic communications to the mandate of the school system. But more importantly, it gives school principals explicit jurisdiction over outside of school activities that are disruptive to the school environment:

122 Where a student enrolled in a public school engages in

(a) disruptive behaviour or severely disruptive behaviour on school grounds, on property immediately adjacent to school grounds, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, function or program whether on or off school grounds, at a school bus stop or on a school bus; or

(b) severely disruptive behaviour at a location, activity, function or program that is off school grounds and is not school-sponsored or school-related, if the behaviour significantly disrupts the learning climate of the school,

the principal, or the person in charge of the school, may take appropriate action as specified in the Provincial school code of conduct policy including suspending the student for a period of not more than five school days.

My overall impression

Overall, I think this legislation is an important step. Up until this Bill was tabled, most of the discussion of the issue recently has focused on possible amendments to the Criminal Code. Based on what I've seen reported about the Rehtaeh Parsons case points to a serious failing on the part of the criminal justice system (and the mental health system), not the criminal law. But in any event, the phenomenon of cyberbullying is a very complicated one, and one that cannot be fixed or even properly addressed by the criminal law alone. This bill specifically puts a degree of responsibility in the school system and provides the means to establish a group of specialists who have appropriate tools to investigate and respond to cyberbullying. Finally, it gives victims and their parents the ability to proceed through the civil justice system for the harm of cyberbullying. Of course, much depends on how this is implemented and I'm sure many here in Nova Scotia will be paying close attention to that.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Government of Nova Scotia introduces anti-cyberbullying bill

The Government of Nova Scotia today tabled Bill 61 to create the Cyber-safety Act. In response to high-profile cyberbullying incidents in the province, some of which have had tragic outcomes, the Bill seeks to do a number of things, including:

  • Providing for protective orders in cases of cyberbullying
  • Creating a free-standing tort of cyberbullying, for which a young cyberbully's parents are jointly and severally responsible unless they can prove they exercised reasonable supervision
  • Creates cyber-bullying prevention orders

I haven't had a chance to review it clause by clause, but I expect I'll have some comments to add later.

(Added 2013-04-27) To see the "in place" amendments to the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, I've created a redlined Google Doc.