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B.C. government to create legislation addressing 'revenge porn'

Last Updated May 6, 2021 at 6:48 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)
Summary

The secretary for gender equity says B.C. has some protections, but there are also gaps needing to be filled

Consultations are ongoing and will wrap up sometime in June

One group based in Vancouver says it is important survivors have supports to heal in the way they want to

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The B.C. government is looking to create legislation that will combat revenge porn and the sharing of images without someone’s permission.

There are currently options under Canada’s Criminal Code to fight such sharing, but B.C.’s Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, Grace Lore, says the province has noticed some gaps in what’s available.

“The internet moves fast, and the criminal justice system often does not. Beyond that, the criminal process is not driven by survivors, it relies on police and Crown Counsel. We also want to make sure that things that aren’t covered right now, explicitly, including the threat to share images, or the sharing or altered images – or deep fakes – are covered,” she tells NEWS 1130.

She admits there will be some challenges ahead, as the internet is vast.

“The internet doesn’t recognize the borders of British Columbia, it doesn’t recognize national borders. The hope – and again, we’re in the consultation phase of this – is that we have a system so that folks are able to get an injunction to have an image declared unlawful, to seek its removal and de-indexing, not contingent on where the poster is. Rather, that that image, wherever it’s posted from, can be extremely harmful,” she notes.

Lore says a made-in-B.C. option will be complementary to what’s currently available, and that it will mean more tools for survivors and support groups to access.

“We’re having consultations for the next month-and-a-half or so, having conversations with service providers, those who are working on the front lines, survivors themselves, sex workers, experts, and we want to make sure that we get that right. We want to make sure we get that right.”

Victims need to be able to choose their own path: WAWAV

Dalya Israel is the CEO of Women Against Violence Against Women and says the move is a good step, and that broadening the tools available to survivors is far better than maintaining the status quo.

“We believe that survivors need to have their own path to justice, and so ensuring that survivors have access to the things they need, and that they can determine what those needs are along the way. We know that sexual assault and, by extension, revenge porn and image abuse can continue to take away survivors’ autonomy over their bodies. We believe any legislation that’s going to be crafted needs to centre supporting survivors to regain autonomy.”

While she agrees that the internet is quite broad and that it will pose some challenges, moves need to be made.

“We really need to consider in the meantime how we can meet survivors where they’re at and provide resources and tools. I think there’s other pieces of education that we can do with folks about how borderless the internet is, so that we’re increasing information by sharing info about the internet,” she tells NEWS 1130.

RELATED: Manitoba RCMP tweet blamed victims of revenge porn: advocate

In a release from the Government of British Columbia – and citing stats reported by Cybertip.ca, reported cases of non-consensual disclosure of intimate images increased by 58% by the start of 2021, compared to the nine-month period before April 2021. This included a 94 per cent increase in young people reporting, and a 44 per cent increase in adults reporting.

“This issue has only been amplified in the context of COVID-19, with more people spending time online” says Lore, “we need to make sure folks are protected and have options.”

If you would like to provide feedback, you’re invited to email imageprivacy@gov.bc.ca