Know the law about sharing intimate pics online

May 1, 2015

This is a guest post written by our colleagues at Justice Canada.

March 10 of this year was an important milestone in the Government of Canada's efforts to fight bullying and cyberbullying. On that day, the new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images came into force. What that means is that police can now investigate and lay charges in cases where intimate images are distributed without the consent of the person depicted. This also means that prosecutors can now pursue charges in these cases.

Specifically, the new offence will now prohibit the distribution or sharing of a photo or video of a sexual nature or one which depicts nudity, without the consent of the person in the photo or video. This offence targets a very specific type of cyberbullying, which is sometimes referred to as “revenge porn”. This type of bullying has been the subject of increased attention, as it can have serious consequences for its victims.

From now on, individuals who are convicted of this offence could face a maximum punishment of five years in prison. They may also face other consequences, such as having to pay to cover the costs associated with removing the image from the Internet and having their cellphone or computer taken away.

Most bullying and cyberbullying is not criminal in nature. Experts agree that the most effective way to combat bullying and cyberbullying is through measures other than the criminal law, such as education. However, when bullying behaviour rises to the level of criminal conduct, police and prosecutors will now have the tools they need to address this conduct thanks to the introduction of this new offence

For more information on the new cyberbullying offence, visit www.canada.gc.ca/cyberbullying.


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Anonymous

can anybody speak to how this would apply for intimate images and video sent to England specifically and then that person in England distributes them without consent?

GetCyberSafe

Response from Department of Justice:
Generally, offences committed outside of Canada cannot be prosecuted inside of Canada. However, the Crown may be able to pursue charges for crimes committed outside of Canada in some cases, depending on the particulars of the case.

The Department of Justice cannot provide any direct legal assistance or advice to the general public nor does it assist in legal research.

For legal advice or assistance, we recommend contacting a lawyer or a legal aid program.

K

I know this was posted last year, but is there a law equivalent to this in the U.S.?

GetCyberSafe

Many states in the U.S. do have laws on cyberbullying. In some cases, bullying is considered to be a civil rights violation. You can use this website to find out more about your state's laws and policies: http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/. Also, 34 states + DC have specific laws on the sharing of intimate photos. To learn more go to http://www.cybercivilrights.org/revenge-porn-laws/.

If the image is of a minor the offender could also be charged with child pornography. Read more about those specific laws here: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ceos/child-pornography.

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