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Ruling coming on Nova Scotia's anti-cyberbullying law

HALIFAX — A judge is expected to issue a ruling today on Nova Scotia's groundbreaking anti-cyberbullying law.

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has been asked by a Halifax lawyer to approve his bid to challenge the Cyber-safety Act under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Lawyer David Fraser says the legislation is so vague and broad that cyberbullying could be considered anything online that hurts somebody's feelings.

But before the court deals with the potential charter challenge, Fraser says he expects to be told whether messages sent by his client to a former business partner amount to cyberbullying.

Robert Snell has been accused of cyberbullying Giles Crouch when the two got into a dispute.

Crouch has been granted a cyber safety protection order under the new law, which prevents Snell from communicating with him.

Fraser says the law as an unreasonable and unjustified infringement of freedom of expression rights.

He says the provincial government, which is defending the law, contends the challenge won't be necessary if the judge rules no cyberbullying occurred.

The law was passed in May 2013 by the province's former NDP government in response to public outrage around the case of Rehtaeh Parsons.

The teen's family alleges Parsons was sexually assaulted in November 2011 and bullied for months when a digital photo of the assault was passed around her school.

She died after attempting suicide in April 2013.

Parsons' death also acted as a catalyst for the federal government, which changed the Criminal Code to make it illegal to distribute intimate images without consent.

The provincial act defines cyberbullying as any electronic communication "that ought reasonably be expected to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to another persons health, emotional well being, self-esteem or reputation."

The Canadian Press

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