Canada May Criminalize Revenge Porn

Jul 24, 2013 12:15 PM PST

OTTAWA — Two Canadian legislative committees issued a report last week recommending that a new criminal offense be created to address the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images, often referred to as "revenge porn."

The Canadian Department of Justice directed the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials and Cybercrime Working Group in May 2012 to identify holes in the Canadian Criminal Code with regard to cyberbullying and the online dissemination of private, intimate images.   

After reviewing the existing criminal code and related literature, the committees determined that there is indeed a “gap” in the current treatment of the issue.

The committees proposed that the Department of Justice add “complementary amendments relating to, for example, the forfeiture of items used in the commission of the offense and restitution to permit the victim to be compensated for any costs associated with having the images removed from the Internet.”

The distribution of nonconsensual images or revenge porn is a recent phenomenon where website operators post nude or erotic images of women or men, often provided by ex lovers, without their consent. Some revenge porn sites include actual email addresses, cellphone numbers, links social media site and residential addresses

Before issuing their recommendation to the Department of Justice, the CWG and CCSO compiled information pertaining to the more general issue of cyberbullying and its impact on victims, as well as existing legislative and policy options and responses available to address the problem.

The report suggests that the existing criminal code governing cyberbullying is mostly sufficient, but should be amended “to modernize certain existing offenses” to include instances of harassment involving electronic media.

Canada currently offers no serious legal recourse for victims of revenge porn.  

Similar concerns about revenge porn and the lack of sufficient legislation governing it have been raised in the U.S. and abroad. A California Senate panel recently approved a bill that targets revenge porn websites.  

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