Nova Scotia reviews its cyberbullying legislation
Recommendations are limited to improving processes outside of the courts
The province of Nova Scotia has completed its legislated review of the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act, with feedback resulting in a dozen recommendations. The Act replaced the province’s Cyber-safety Act, which was struck down in its entirety in 2015 by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Crouch v Snell, which found the former law violated sections 2(b) and 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The original law created a CyberScan unit within the Department of Public Safety to assist victims of cyberbullying, which was continued in the new legislation. Individual recourse to the courts was continued, but through a much more arduous formal application process to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court (the ex parte procedures in the previous law were found to violate the principles of fundamental justice). All of the recommendations put forward by the review group focus on augmenting and improving the CyberScan unit, including:
improving legal, mental health and crisis supports for victims;
creating a centralized, trauma-informed referral process for victims seeking advice and support; and
improving training for CyberScan staff, who help victims understand their options and navigate the justice system.
None of the recommendations address access to the courts for legal relief on behalf of victims of cyber-bullying and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
Nova Scotia remains the only province with a specific law to address cyberbullying, while other provinces have enacted statutes that are restricted to providing legal relief for victims for the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.