Letter: Protecting our children

This week, Wildrose announced Bill 202: The Protecting Victims of Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images Act.

As technology has advanced, legislators have struggled to pass laws that allow for enforcement of criminal behavior online.

In recent years tragic stories, such as those of Reteah Parsons and Amanda Todd, who both committed suicide at the age of 15, have shown us why it is so critical that we do respond quickly and effectively to technological changes to protect our children and promote zero-tolerance for all cyberbullying.

It is clear that the impact of sharing intimate images has devastating social, mental, and physical effects. In some cases, the images are posted along with the victim’s personal information including their full name, address and social media profiles.

On the federal level Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, which came into force on March 9, 2016, amended the Criminal Code to provide for a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well as additional amendments to authorize the removal of such images from the Internet.

The federal Bill also brought in amendments to authorize the recovery of expenses incurred to obtain the removal of such images and the restriction of the use of a computer or the internet by a convicted offender.

In Manitoba, last year’s passing of the Intimate Image Protection Act required the government to make the appropriate supports available to assist people who have had an intimate image distributed without consent or who believe that their intimate image is about to be distributed without consent, and also allows victims to pursue damages in civil court.

Two years ago Microsoft and Google announced policies to remove the non-consensual sharing of intimate images from their search engines if the victim fills out a form and requests it.

With private companies taking action and the federal government and provincial government in Manitoba bringing in legislation addressing the non-consensual distribution of sexual imagery and video, it’s time for Alberta to do the same.

Alberta needs a law to correspond with the ease at which these images can be distributed through technology. This Private Members Bill proposes to create the tort law necessary to allow victims to sue those who share intimate images without their consent, and adds language to the School Act to make it clear that for youth, this action is grounds for suspension or expulsion.

As a father, this issue hits home. There’s nothing more important to me than ensuring our sons and daughters are protected, and our children are educated about the dangers they face online.

We hope all parties will recognize the seriousness of this matter, support the Protecting Victims of Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images Act in order to ensure victims have all the tools they need and to join us in bringing this issue to the forefront of conversation so that we raise awareness.

Bonnyville – Cold Lake MLA Scott Cyr

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