REGINA — Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan has introduced a bill that would allow people to sue for compensation if their intimate images have been shared without their permission.
A victim would be able to sue in small-claims court where they are claiming damages less than $30,000 and would not have to wait for criminal charges to be laid.
Morgan said he’s particularly concerned about how the sharing of intimate images is affecting young people.
“Social media is one of those things that’s incredibly pervasive. It follows young people home. It follows them into their bedrooms late at night,” Morgan said Tuesday at the legislature in Regina.
“This is a protection that we want to have so that they will have a disincentive for that type of conduct.”
The government said it is difficult to rely on the Criminal Code to deter cyberbullying through unauthorized sharing of intimate images because the burden of proof is so high.
The proposed legislation would shift the onus of proof to the person that circulated the image by requiring them to show that they had received consent.
Saskatchewan is the first province to take such a step, said Morgan.
“My advice to somebody would be don’t post something unless you’re absolutely certain that you’ve got the consent from the person’s that in it.”
Interim NDP Leader Nicole Sarauer said the Opposition just got the legislation Tuesday and needs time to review it.
However, Sarauer said it is time to modernize the law in Saskatchewan to deal with the serious problem.
“It’s important because the civil burden of proof is much lower than the criminal burden of proof, that there is that avenue for individuals who are victims of this situation to have an avenue of repercussions outside of the criminal court,” she said.
Shannon Lea of the No Touchy Campaign in Saskatchewan said the legislation could force someone to think twice about trying to exact revenge on the internet.
“I think it’s huge for people, even in intimate relationships, who have had this happen to them to be able to do something about it instead of sit back and continue to be victimized,” Lea told radio station CKRM.
The No Touchy Campaign aims to raise public awareness of the extent of sexual assault in Canada.
Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press