Unique proposed new legislation would help Manitobans whose intimate images are distributed without consent by providing a new civil court remedy and other new resources to help them remove the images from public display, Attorney General Gord Mackintosh announced today.
As well, new tools will help schools and parents better identify, prevent and respond to sexting and cyberbullying, Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum announced today.
“Social media and the Internet have made it easier to harass or shame a person with an intimate image,” said Minister Mackintosh. “This legislation would provide remedies outside the criminal legal system and would help those who are victimized regain control over their intimate image.”
"Schools should be inclusive and welcoming places, and we know that children can’t learn if they don’t feel safe,” said Minister Allum. “These new educational resources will help students better understand the dangers of sharing intimate images and give teachers and parents the tools and information they need to help keep students safe and support youth affected by sexting or cyberbullying.”
The intimate images protection act would apply to situations often referred to as ‘revenge porn’ or ‘sexting coercion’ and would build on recent changes to the federal Criminal Code that make it an offence to distribute intimate images without consent, Minister Mackintosh said. The new provincial legislation would allow victims to pursue legal action and sue for damages in civil court he said, adding it would also establish a framework to help people resolve the matter out of court or contact police to pursue potential criminal charges.
Once the legislation is in place, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) would be the first contact for Manitobans of any age whose intimate images have been shared without consent. Through its Cybertip.ca program, C3P will offer assistance to Manitobans dealing with the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Depending on the circumstances of the case and the needs of the victim, possible assistance rules could include:
- taking steps to remove intimate images from social media or other locations;
- contacting the individuals who released the intimate image, or their parents, to remove and delete all images;
- providing information on how to deal with situations involving non-consensual distribution of intimate images; or
- facilitating the transfer of the case to police, where appropriate.
“Cyberbullying and the issue of intimate images are complex problems facing young people,” said Lianna McDonald, executive director, C3P. “We see day-in and day-out the harm created from the non-consensual distribution of sexual pictures and the resulting social fallout. It is critical that youth who are negatively impacted by a sexual picture can access support services, educational tools and resources that help them navigate these complex circumstances in times of crisis to help them take their life back.”
In addition, a new package of resources focused on addressing online exploitation, sexting and cyberbullying has recently been distributed to all schools in Manitoba. The information, developed by C3P, helps school staff better recognize, prevent and intervene in these situations and creates a starting point for better informed conversations with students and parents, said Minister Allum.
The intimate images protection act would apply when the person in the intimate image is identifiable and nude or engaged in sexual activity, had a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time it was recorded and did not consent to it being shared, Minister Mackintosh said. It would also address situations where other people obtain intimate images of a person and distribute them without consent, digitally or in any other format, the minister added.
Manitobans of any age who have been a victim of revenge porn or cyberbullying, or who have questions about the resources and supports available, are encouraged to contact the Canadian Centre for Child Protection at www.cybertip.ca or call (toll-free) 1-866-658-9022.
The Manitoba government is planning to support out-of-court assistance for victims under the proposed law with $110,000 from the Criminal Property Forfeiture fund this year and about $175,000 annually in future years from Victim Services grants. Materials for schools have been supplied by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection with support of about $50,000, Minister Allum noted.