#CyberFLASH: First prominent case testing Canada’s new cyberbullying law begins

mobile-securitySix teens charged with distributing intimate images without consent appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday.

The start of the court case is testing a brand new Canadian law, brought in after the death of Rehtaeh Parsons.

“As technology changes, the law has to change as well to meet that,” says Crown Attorney Leigh-Ann Bryson.

The boys, now 15 and 18, are accused of sharing intimate images of more than 20 young girls with the US-based file sharing service-Dropbox. They’re also charged with possessing and distributing child pornography. Bridgewater Police laid the charges last month.

It all comes after a complaint from a high school principalin May 2015 and a cross border investigation that spanned more than a year.

“These charges are intended to capture something different than that captured just by the child pornography charges,” says Bryson.

Bill C-13 became law in March 2015, following the deaths of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons.

“This law doesn’t make sexting illegal. This doesn’t make sharing intimate images amongst partners to an intimate relationship illegal in any way,” says Privacy Lawyer David Fraser. “It’s the nonconsensual part. It’s if the boyfriend receives a picture of the girlfriend and then forwards it to his buddies.”

Bryson says this is a complex and challenging case because there are six accused, all with different lawyers, all dealing with such a new law.

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#CyberFLASH: Canada needs cyberbullying laws that allow for non-criminal solutions: professor

keyboardCanada needs cyberbullying laws that curb unwanted sharing of sexual pictures without always requiring police investigations, a law professor said Tuesday.

Nova Scotia had a Cyber Safety Act – the first in Canada – from the fall of 2013 until the legislation was struck down by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia near the end of 2015, when a judge ruled that it infringed on charter rights of freedom of expression. 

During a meeting of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law in Halifax, several experts said that since the law was struck down, victims of online harassment have to turn either to complicated police investigations or expensive civil court suits.

Wayne MacKay, who teaches human rights law at Dalhousie University, said in an interview he’s eager for the province to follow up on a promise to amend and reintroduce its cyberbullying law and bring an investigative unit back into action.

He says the new law should allow for informal requests to swiftly take down offensive words and images, and allow for civil court actions that would hold people accountable for distributing intimate images.

“I think there’s some degree of urgency,” said the former chair of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying, during an interview after a seminar at the conference.

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#CyberFLASH: Halifax Lawyer To Launch Charter Case Challenge Of Cyber-Safety Act

Digital Life Tech Tips Double Layer PasswordsA Halifax lawyer is getting ready to challenge the Cyber-Safety Act in a Nova Scotia courtroom next week.

David Fraser, an Internet privacy lawyer with McInnes Cooper in Halifax says the law violates a Canadians freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The law is so broad that it includes anything that is done electronically that could hurt somebody’s self-esteem, that could harm their reputation and it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not,” Fraser said.

Fraser is currently representing a client who is being charged under the Cyber-Safety Act after posting on social media about a former business partner.

The business partner alleged cyber bullying and obtained a Cyber-Safety order from a justice of the peace. Fraser says his client’s actions are not cyber bullying under the legislation and the order should never have been issued in the first place.

Act “jammed” through legislature

“We’re also arguing that the cyber bullying legislation, if it’s applied in a case like this, is actually not constitutional. it’s contrary to the freedom of expression guaranteed in the charter that allows you to say whatever you want to say, subject to reasonable limitations imposed by law.”

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#CyberFLASH: Manitoba to allow victims to sue for intimate photos distributed without consent

manitoba-nude-picture-sharing-lawManitoba has introduced a law that would allow victims who had intimate images distributed without their consent to claim damages and recoup any profits from the crime.

Attorney General Gord Mackintosh said the law would be the first in Canada to make it easy for victims to sue for everything from an injunction to punitive damages.

The province would also partner with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to boost funding for its tipline, which helps remove intimate images from the Internet and links victims with support.

Social media has made it easier to harass and shame a person with an intimate image, Mackintosh said Tuesday.

“Cyberbullying, based on these intimate images, is even worse than traditional notions of bullying. The impact is instant,” he said. “It’s more devastating psychologically than physical bullying.”

Experts have said they are seeing an alarming increase in the number of teens who share sexual images of themselves through live web chats and are then extorted for money. The proposed law would apply to “revenge porn” and “sexting coercion,” Mackintosh said.

It would apply when a person was “identifiable and nude or engaged in sexual activity” and did not consent to the image being shared, he said. It would also apply if someone acquired an intimate image and shared it without consent, Mackintosh added.

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#CyberFLASH: Global cyberbullying target of Five Eyes meeting hosted by Canada

justice-minister-peter-mackay-2Canada has formed an international working group with its Five Eyes intelligence allies in an attempt to combat the cross-border threats posed by cyberbullying, Justice Minister Peter MacKay revealed Monday.

MacKay said Canada hosted a meeting of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing community — which includes the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand — in the last two weeks.

The minister said a working group has been established that will produce a report on how to combat threats posed by international online predators who threaten young people.

“We just recently hosted, in the last 10 days, a meeting here in Ottawa specific to that question of how we do a better job of sharing our efforts, sharing our information,” MacKay said.

“The working group is from the Five Eyes.”

Canada’s new cyberbully law went on the books late last year, giving police more online surveillance powers.

Canada studying UK model

MacKay said more needs to be done to deal with the fact that online predators can strike at young people from foreign countries.

One tragic example was a criminal case that came to an end last fall when a former Minnesota nurse was sentenced to three years in prison after using the Internet to persuade an 18-year-old Canadian woman and a 32-year-old English man to commit suicide.

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#CyberFLASH: Reddit moderator and ‘doxing’ victim says police reaction lacklustre

typing-image-genericA Halifax man who says he was harassed and doxed on a local internet message board says he’s had a “frustrating” time trying to get authorities to investigate, even though Nova Scotia has laws against it.

Doxing — a shorthand for the act of dropping or publicizing documents — is the practice of posting a person’s personal information online, often against a person’s wishes.

Blake Hebb is a moderator on the popular online forum Reddit, where he says a recent thread about the upcoming federal election got out of control. The political escalated to the personal when Hebb said a user posted Hebb’s full name and the street he lived on.

“There are very few rules Reddit as an entity enforces, but one of the main ones is don’t post personal information,” says Hebb.

The user was banned from Reddit, but opened new accounts — 36 of them in all.

“It was this game of whack-a-mole,” Hebb said. “I’m sure a person could have better hobbies.”

The user continued to taunt Hebb and posted his full name, date of birth, email address, mailing address and phone number.

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#CyberFLASH: Bill aimed at protecting Canadians from online crime is here

image-2A bill aiming to protect Canadians from online harassment and cyberbullying goes into effect Monday March 9th.

Bill C-13 otherwise known as the “Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act” aims to safeguard the rights of online users.

It received Royal Assent in December, giving it the go-ahead to become law.

The act includes a number of provisions, such as more ways to stop the distribution of non-consensual intimate images.

The government also says it will modernize investigative procedures, like warrants, to help police obtain electronic evidence from the Internet and other technologies.

The new act will designate funding for both national campaigns and school-based education projects aimed at stopping cyberbullying.

With the new act going into effect, those who have strongly opposed the bill are disappointed with what it could mean for Canadians’ right to privacy.

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#CyberFLASH: Safer Internet Day: Beginner’s guide to protecting your information online

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TORONTO – Tuesday is Safer Internet Day, a worldwide campaign generally aimed at discussing issues younger generations are facing online – from cyberbullying, to privacy concerns. But following a year of hacking scandals and security flaws, many Canadians would agree that a “safer” Internet starts with protecting their own information.

Many tech companies are using Safer Internet Day as a platform to remind users to revisit their security settings.

Google, for example, has a reminder on its homepage encouraging users to go through a two minute security checkup, which walks you through recent account activity and permission settings.

Security experts are also taking the opportunity to encourage all web users to educate themselves about online scams and security issues.

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