Sex, Laws and Videotape: Canadian Government Moves Ahead to Criminalize Revenge Porn

Sex, Lies and Videotape (Poster image via Wikipedia)

I previously blogged about the Criminalization of Revenge Porn movement south of the border in a post entitled “Revenge Is A Link Best Served Cold“.

From the October 16, 2013 Speech From The Throne:

Our Government believes that the justice system exists to protect law-abiding citizens and our communities. For too long, the voices of victims have been silenced, while the system coddled criminals. Our Government has worked to re-establish Canada as a country where those who break the law are punished for their actions; where penalties match the severity of crimes committed; where the rights of victims come before the rights of criminals.

  • Our Government will introduce a Victims Bill of Rights to restore victims to their rightful place at the heart of our justice system.
  • Our Government will focus on protecting the most vulnerable of all victims, our children. Recent tragic deaths, including those of Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, and Todd Loik, have shocked Canadians.Our Government will introduce legislation giving police and prosecutors new tools to effectively address cyberbullying that involves criminal invasion of privacy, intimidation and personal abuse. This legislation would create a new criminal offence prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada are based on the euphemistically titled report ” “Cyberbullying and the Non-consensual Distribution of Intimate Images (June 2013)” [pdf], [the “Report”]. The Report was written under the auspices of the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials (CCSO), Criminal Justice, Cybercrime Working Group (CWG) and a Sub-Group on Cyberbullying established in January 2013 (co-chaired by the Department of Justice Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General) at the behest of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Justice and Public Safety.

With respect to the “Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images” (shorter version “Revenge Porn”), the Executive Summary states:

On the issue of the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, the Working Group and CCSO reviewed related literature and existing Criminal Code offences and concluded that there is a gap in the Criminal Code’s treatment of this conduct. The Working Group recommends that a new criminal offence addressing the non-consensual distribution of intimate images be created, including complementary amendments relating to, for example, the forfeiture of items used in the commission of the offence and restitution to permit the victim to be compensated for any costs associated with having the images removed from the Internet.

Read the Report and see whether criminalizing revenge porn addresses any free speech issues. Just kidding, section 2(b) of the Charter which includes the right to freedom of expression (a denuded version of the U.S. First Amendment right of free speech) is not on the Committee’s radar. When consenting adults have sex and choose to film their amorous escapades, it is the responsibility of the Canadian federal government to ensure that the revenge pornographer is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Law.

Anyone remember the late Prime Minister Pierre Eliott Trudeau’s famous quip?

“There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

Boy, was he ever wrong.

The state not only wants to listen in to your phone conversations and read your emails,  it wants to criminalize spurned love.

Ok, I readily concede, without cavil, that revenge porn is odious, outrageous, contumelious and any other “ious” you can come up with. It is, however, a form of speech, as offensive as it may be. There are civil remedies available to deal with a problem of failed relationships and vindictive or retaliatory actions. According to the Report, incidences of revenge porn are based mostly on anecdotal evidence. Maybe people feel victimized and too afraid to respond when their former sex partner publicizes or posts “intimate images” non-consensually. Here’s the problem: the photos if taken on consent, do not create a right of non-disclosure or confidentiality. Poor judgment, not politics, makes for strange bedfellows.

Is revenge porn really a wide-ranging problem? I don’t know, but I would like to see some statistics rather than rushing to judgment that the criminal law is a panacea for imposing a 5-year indictable offence for posting a picture of your former love interest in a compromising Kama Sutra position.  Some people simply don’t care and are not ashamed of their sexual escapades. I’m not photogenic or buff enough to venture into the realm of sex, lies and videotape.

Consider the hypothetical scenario of someone you may know sending you a sexually explicit picture or video of an unidentified woman (or man) as a “joke”. Poor taste, but are you in possession of “non-consensual images”? Are you aiding and abetting, facilitating or distributing such “non-consensual images”? Does it matter to the police officer who has seized your computer and smartphone based upon a search warrant sworn by the victim?

Just please don’t tell me that the state has any business in putting the exhibitionist genie back into the bottle. If you’re into making amateur porn or sending “selfies” on your iPhone, don’t be surprised that your posterior and other private parts will end up on public display.

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3 Responses to “Sex, Laws and Videotape: Canadian Government Moves Ahead to Criminalize Revenge Porn”

  1. Xavier Cormier Says:

    Revenge porn is something that needs to be adressed.

    It will be interesting to see if the new law stands the test of the Charter.

    As for the internet monitoring and phone call monitoring, Harper goes to far once again
    Xavier

  2. Some Dude Says:

    What about images taken without the victim’s knowledge or consent? Your otherwise harsh but sound analysis (a.k.a. “you live by the nude pic, you die by the nude pic”) doesn’t really address this.

  3. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Actually, no. Read my post again, where I state: “There are civil remedies available to deal with a problem of failed relationships and vindictive or retaliatory actions.”

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