Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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.

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