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Newfoundland and Labrador to target ‘revenge porn’ with new law

Newfoundland and Labrador will target so-called revenge porn with new legislation to crack down on those who share intimate images without consent.

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons says it’s a move to deter harassment that can be especially devastating and humiliating.

He says legislation to be introduced by this fall will allow victims to sue in civil court and legally force the removal of images from the internet.

He says the Criminal Code was updated in 2015 to outlaw distribution of intimate images without consent, but civil law has lagged.

The new legislation would also allow judges to award damages so that offenders would literally pay for their actions.

Parsons says Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Nova Scotia have so far taken similar action.

In an interview with AdvocateDaily.com, Toronto civil sexual abuse lawyer Anna Matas says she’s pleased to see the government of Newfoundland and Labrador taking steps to address this “pervasive issue.”

“It is particularly heartening that the bill will address how to remove images from the internet,” says Matas, a lawyer based in the Toronto office of Lerners LLP.

“The fact that victims lose control over their images is one of the most devastating causes of harm in these cases, as there is no reliable way to ensure the images are no longer circulating,” she says. “In the context of defamation, courts have recognized that the propagation of materials over the internet requires special consideration because of how far and how fast the materials can be spread.

“These characteristics of internet libel, which parallel the traits of non-consensual distribution of intimate images over the internet, were among the factors the Ontario Court of Appeal cited in January in upholding a $700,000 defamation award relating to internet libel. The court’s analysis can also apply to cases of non-consensual distribution of intimate images and can support the award of substantial damages.”

In provinces like Ontario — where there are no specific laws addressing civil recourse for cyberbullying or revenge porn — Matas says individuals whose intimate images have been shared without their consent should consult a lawyer to discuss legal options.

This article originally appeared on AdvocateDaily.com

Anna Matas

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