POLITICS

New cyberbullying law targets spread of intimate images

11/20/2013 03:23 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST
Justice Minister Peter MacKay is expected to introduce legislation today to crack down on cyberbullying that would make it illegal to distribute intimate images without the consent of the person in the photo.

MacKay and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney will hold a joint news conference in Ottawa this afternoon as part of Bullying Awareness Week.

MacKay had signalled earlier this year that he intended to introduce new "holistic" legislation this fall to tackle the issue.

In making that statement in September, he said Canadians had been touched by the death of Todd Loik, 15, a Saskatchewan high school student.

His mother said Todd committed suicide after relentless online tormenting.

MacKay noted other deaths that affected people across the country, including Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia and Amanda Todd in B.C.

Todd took her own life in October 2012 after nearly two years of being the target of sexual extortion. An image of her topless was sent to her Facebook friends, including her mother, Carol Todd, who is in Ottawa for the announcement.

 “It’s a step in the right direction,” Carol Todd said. “The only thing that was going through my mind was that if this was in place three years ago when I first started reporting the things that were happening to Amanda … I think my daughter would be here.”

Todd hopes the RCMP will have more powers to investigate complaints of photos being spread online.

“It’s not only my family that I care about, it’s about every other family in Canada.”

Todd hopes the announcement will send a message to anyone considering spreading intimate images.

“If there’s some morality and legal consequences, maybe it will change the way they think before they write something and hit send.”