Cyberbullying legislation introduced
HALIFAX – Cyberbullies will be held accountable for their actions with legislative changes dubbed the Cyber-Safety Act introduced by the province today.
The legislation will create the country's first cyber-investigative unit and allow families and victims to get protection orders from the court. School principals will also have clear authority to act against bullying or cyberbullying, on or off school grounds.
"For too long, cyberbullies have been able to torment others, knowing the authorities would have a hard time holding them accountable," said Justice Minister Ross Landry. That is about to change.
"This legislation will help identify cyberbullies who often hide behind IP addresses or off school grounds, and stop their harmful actions."
The province is creating a new Cyber SCAN investigative unit within the Justice Department. Investigators will respond to complaints, negotiate formal or informal resolutions and, if necessary, seek a cyberbullying prevention order. The court may order a person stop the online communication. The unit will be up and running this fall.
Education Act amendments will also reflect the need for school boards to co-operate fully with investigators.
"We need to remember that students who are cyberbullying are young people, too, and some do not understand the seriousness of their behaviour," said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Ramona Jennex. "Having an investigator come to their door can, very quickly, take away their keyboard courage, stopping the harmful action and teaching young people to take responsibility and make better decisions in future."
The legislation will allow victims and their families to seek a court protection order. Similar to an order that can be sought by the cyber-investigative unit, it can ban a person from contacting the victim, talking about them online, or using any means of electronic communication.
Courts could also order computers, smartphones or tablets be confiscated.