A new change to the Criminal Code of Canada gives the police a weapon to fight anyone who posts intimate pictures of others without their consent, says legal advocate Kevin O'Shea.
Images of dozens of nude women from the province have been shared on a public website without their consent. The site appears to have been created last year, and has been widely shared on social media in recent weeks.
O'Shea, executive director of the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, says the amendments to s.162.1 of the Criminal Code change how cyberbullying can be fought. The amendments became law in March.
"It makes it a new offence to do a number of things with videos or photos of a person in an intimate setting without that person's consent — including publishing, distributing, transmitting those images," O'Shea said in an interview with Here & Now.
While the child pornography law protected victims prior to March, that law applied exclusively to those under the age of 18.
"This new law applies no matter what the age of the person," O'Shea said. "The key difference is this new law is for distributing photos or videos without this person's consent — the consent of the person in the photo or video."
Defining an 'intimate image'
The Criminal Code defines an intimate image as being one in which the subject is nude, partially nude, or engaged in explicit sexual activity.
"The other part of that definition is that at the time the photo or video was taken, there was some circumstances that led to a reasonable expectation of privacy, at least in the mind of the person in the photo or video," he said.
O'Shea said determining such a thing is difficult, and is something that will be determined by the courts on an individual basis.
As for potential charges laid under this new law, O'Shea said it only applies to someone distributing, posting or transmitting images or videos after March 9.
If found guilty, O'Shea said those indicted on charges could face up to five years in prison while summary convictions could carry a six-month jail sentence and a $5,000 fine.