Nova Scotia's awful cyber abuse law makes bullies of us all -

Nova Scotia’s awful cyber abuse law makes bullies of us all

Jesse Brown on the Cyber Safety Act


Jeff Chiu/AP

I’ve written before about the problems involved in legislating against cyberbullying.  I focused on the impossible issue of reaching a definition. Rape, assault, harassment: these are crimes with established parameters. All of them could also be called “bullying.” They could also be described as “mean,” and I suppose we could enact a law against being mean. But I’d rather have laws against specific crimes, rather than against vast swaths of vaguely defined human behaviour. Ultimately, bullying is in the eye of the bullied. For many, cyberbullying is equal to a negative thing said about them on the Internet. I’ve met restaurant owners who feel they’re being cyberbullied by Chowhound critics.

The problems with anti-cyberbullying laws don’t end there. Once a law establishes some flawed definition, it moves on to enforcement. Here’s how Nova Scotia’s new Cyber Safety Act, which went into effect yesterday, will go about stopping online abuse:

Someone feels that you’re cyberbullying them. They visit or phone the court and request a protection order against you (minors , or some reason, cannot do so, only adults). A judge decides if their claim meets the law’s definition. The definition of cyberbullying, in this particular bill, includes “any electronic communication” that “ought reasonably be expected” to “humiliate” another person, or harm their “emotional well-being, self-esteem or reputation.”

If this is the standard, I don’t know a person who isn’t a cyberbully.

The issuing of a protection order is an ex parte process between your accuser and the court. You won’t have an opportunity to defend yourself. If a judge issues one against you, here’s what might happen:

  •  The police can seize your computers and phone.
  • Your Internet connection can be shut off.
  • You can be ordered to stop using electronic devices entirely.
  • Your Internet Service Provider or Internet companies, such as Facebook, can be compelled to fork over all your data to the police.
  • You can be gagged by the court and prohibited from mentioning your accuser online.
  • If you violate any of these orders, you’ll face stiff fines and up to two years of jail time. At this point, your accuser can sue you in civil court.

But wait, there’s more.

If your kid is found to be a cyberbully, you are deemed to be a cyberbully as well for not stopping them, unless you can prove that you tried really hard to. Any civil suit would target you.

The act also modifies the Nova Scotia Education Act to make school principals somewhat responsible for what their students do online. It’s now their job to “promote and encourage safe and respectful electronic communications” between students wherever they are. So if a kid disrespects another kid on Facebook, a principal can suspend them for five days — something the principal could feel compelled to do.

By making both school administrators and parents liable, to various degrees, for what minors do online, the Cyber Safety Act puts pressure on adults to spy on teenagers.

The only sane aspect of the measure is the creation of a Cyber SCAN investigation unit, a team of five cyber abuse investigators who anyone can appeal to for help, including minors. They’ll probe incidents and seek resolutions that might include, say, a safe and open discussion between accuser and accused before court orders are requested. This feels like a reasonable way to approach online abuse between kids, but I am leery of what specific investigative powers the Cyber SCAN unit will have. Will this be a crisis-prevention team, or a bunch of cops tasked with spying on adolescents?

Nova Scotia’s Cyber Safety Act is in clear conflict with our Charter rights to free expression, and I can’t imagine it withstanding a legal challenge on those grounds. But that will take time.

Until then, watch what you say in Nova Scotia, and be very careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown

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Nova Scotia’s awful cyber abuse law makes bullies of us all

  1. This is idiotic. Everything you say can be said about Hate Speech laws but we don’t see them being applied to every single incident. Undoubtedly judges will set the bar high enough so that it won’t be used frivolously but reserved for serious cases of cyber bullying.

    • So-called ‘hate speech’ is no longer prohibited by the Human Rights Act in Canada. The Senate repealed it. Do try to keep up with the state of the art in repression of free speech.

      • The guy’s pointi s still valid, looks like you’re the one who needs to keep up!

      • Hate speech is still a chargeable offence under the Criminal Code, and human rights legislation would not apply in the case of private citizens harassing or discriminating each other. Do try to know the source you are arguing.

        • You go girl. Can I call him an idiot.

        • I think you may have harmed his self-esteem, he should get a gag order on you and have your computer confiscated!

        • You have entirely overlooked my point, that being that ‘Hate Speech’ laws are not some uncontroversially good legislation that we can hold up as proving it is safe to curtail free speech even further. On the contrary, as expected they have been pushed and abused to regulate behaviour beyond that which was intended, which is why they were removed from the Human Rights Act. The fact that there are still some offences on the books doesn’t change the fact that criminalising ‘hate speech’ is highly problematic, to the point that such laws are even being repealed.

          Not exactly a solid founding for an argument now, is it? Hate speech laws should all go the way of the dodo. Hate is an emotion — it is not illegal. There should be no such thing as thought crime.

      • As well, the wording of this is quite similar to defamation legislation, which has a long legal history. No one is saying it is not complicated, but the applications will be decided on a case by case basis, based on evidence. If it prevents the raping or death of even one child, it is worth it. The law needs to evolve along with society.

        • The ridiculous “if it saves just one life it’s worth it” argument is aggravatingly mindless and has led to a profusion of unjust, poorly-written, reactionary laws that always lead to foreseeable but unintended consequences. In this instance, you seem to favor any number of innocent victims of this law having their lives turned upside down on the pretense that it *might* lead to a life being saved. What if someone falsely accused of bullying commits suicide? Would you then add another law that further erodes free speech and personal integrity just in case it *might* save a life? Compassion cannot be legislated; it comes from the individual, not the strong punitive arm of the law.

          • “The ridiculous “if it saves just one life it’s worth it” argument is aggravatingly mindless ”
            Also when applied to wholesale vaccinations.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • You’re entertaining a worst case hypothetical/misapplication of the law, that anyone in support of the legislation would just as adamantly oppose. If someone is wrongly accused of murder, which happens, does that mean there is a problem with the laws against it?

            What good is your freedom to malicious, humiliating speech, which diminishes the freedom of someone else. This legislation is intended to enhance general freedom, particularly that of the people whose freedom is being assaulted. The freedom you are so concerned of is trivial.

            “Compassion cannot be legislated; it comes from the individual, not the strong punitive arm of the law.” We no longer have the fear of eternal damnation imposing compassion. Thus, it is the necessity of the state, and of state action, to check the destructive tendencies innate to our species.

          • Well, hypothetical abuse needs to be considered when creating a bill so that it does not carry unintended consequences that negatively impact society and democracy.

            It is called problem solving. This bill was simply not developed enough to avoid this pitfall. It would have taken very little effort to improve this bill, but this time was not taken.

            This legislation just seems irresponsible.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • I think you’re trying to get reported for cyberbullying

      • Funny, they still sit in office and collect wages and benifits.

    • Your comment is not only idiotic but facile and acquiescent. Take a look at the UK and Europe’s hate speech laws, its nearly every day someone over there is getting arrested for making a racist social media entry. Besides, hate speech laws are no longer on the books in Canada, and rightfully so.

      There’s a fine line between liberty and aggression in a liberal democracy, and discriminatory and racist speech,as well as insults and humilatory speech fall on the liberty side of that line as they do not constitute a direct initiation of force or fraud against the person or property of the innocent, whether the odious alliance of reform liberals and social democrats who seek to limit our natural born rights in this country like it or not. Opposition to government censorship is never tantamount to an endorsement of content but an opposition of government violence against the non-violent.

      Rape, assault and harassment are all forms of universally recognized violence (outside the middle east) however, and that’s why this law is an overly broad in scope, useless, big government redundancy in addition to a foundation for a renewed gradual and chilling government encroachment on our natural born rights and freedoms which must be opposed at all costs.

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        • This comment was deleted.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • Most people know and understand the meaning of those words. Must everyone dumb it down just for you?

          • No, you’re the joke, for acting as if having actual knowledge about language is a mockable offence.

    • I have an issue with Hate Speech laws as well, I’ll not get into that. But you are needlessly comparing the two. All you’ve started to do is form a “slippery slope” argument.

      This is a knee-jerk reaction of a law.

      • Yep, government bullying is legal.

    • Judges set the bar on political and not logical decisions.

  2. I don’t know who you know but I have never sent electronic communication that could be judged to be meant to humiliate somebody. If, let’s say, everybody but me is sending these types of messages then today’s society is in a sad state. Maybe the problem is not the law but the people who think that humiliating people is ok and an ordinary occurrence.

    • The problem here is… you are NOT the judge, anyone can claim anything humiliates them, lowers their self esteem and/ or affects their reputation.

      A poor critique of a restaurant might lower the self esteem of the owner and affect their reputation….

      Complaining about poor service… anywhere.. might also fill the criteria..

      This could go on and on endlessly…

      Bad law! ..scratch this province OFF the potential residence list.

      Who thinks this crap up anyway? THEY should be held liable for 100% of the costs of the courts and defendants and accusers costs of sorting this crap out… I can see HUGE response from personality disorders for anything directed at them online… just for the attention…

      • So if I call the RCMP and accuse you of murder they will automatically indict you. WE have the law to determine who has murdered and who has not. We trust this to our judicial system.

        • Murder is a tangible thing that can be proven through external evidence. Bullying is is not tangible and there is no external evidence. The only evidence is the feelings of the so called victim. You might be offended by this reply and as such I could be accused and convicted of bullying regardless of my intentions. There is a reason that we have freedom of speech. Bullying is a problem but the law is ill equipped to address it. It should be discouraged by societal disapproval and condemnation.

          • But murder is an extreme form of bulling. Mafia knows this, so do judges, prosectors….

          • there are allot of tangible things that can be considered bullying. Murder is one of them, assault is another. You can and should charge for these tangible things but not for hurt feelings. This is precisely my point.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • Sue, the only thing I can say to you is that freedom of speech is more important. I’m not saying that verbal bullying isn’t a problem. I’m just saying that legal methods are no good for solving the problem. The best way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them or extricate yourself from the situation. In the case of “cyber bullying” removing the abuse is as easy as a push of a button. As soon as bullying crosses over into the physical/tangible, the law can deal with it specifically.

          • The freedom to speak one’s mind isn’t a freedom to be abused. Even speaking the truth isn’t something that is always the best solution to a problem. And I’m sure that’s why some people disapprove of what I write on my blog.

            If you looked at that article and comments in the LFP, that I gave the URL for, you would see that standing up to bullies doesn’t always do any good. It is too easy for people – a group, especially, to distort one’s words and twist the meaning of what one does, making one appear to be the bully, or if not that, then someone whose work is not worth reading.

            So what you say isn’t true at all. If it were that easy – say, for the Parson’s girl to stop the bullying, I’m sure her parents would have helped her stop it.

            And why should a person – like me – whose research and writing is published on the internet – on my website and my blog – be forced to withdraw from that?

            You don’t make any sense at all. You don’t know what you;re talking about. the bullying I have had to endure in this town has crossed the line over to the physical, but proving it is another matter. Life must be so simple for you. What must it be like to not be able to understand the lives of those you criticize so fervently!

          • In your comments you were being insensitive and rude. If you expect people are going to treat you with kid gloves you really ought to get off the Internet, for your own good. Like I said, remove yourself from the situation. It is easy. The bullying in this case is in your head.

          • Again, if you think I was being rude in any particular post, then quote what I said. Because I was not rude. I did, in fact, take the side of the man who died, arguing that the fact he moved a lot was not evidence of mental instability.

            I have no intention of taking my work offline. And you can bully me along with the rest, offering no real criticism just nasty comments about me, and it only reflects on you.

            See ‘Windsor man found dead in Thames River was mechanic born in Israel’ By Melanie Anderson, The London Free Press
            Thursday, August 15, 2013:

            Oh I see, you’re from London, aren’t you.

          • I actually followed jour link to the lfp rest article. Your perceived bullying is just that. You were making ignorant, offensive comments on the article and the other commenters called you out. You demonstrated my point exceptionally.

            You obviously think you should be the judge of everything. Take your less than usefull commentary back to your blog

          • You’d have to state the comment I made that you object to, that you find “offensive” or “ignorant.” In reality, the people whose verbal abuse I was subjected to were distorting what I said to suit themselves. and here you are, doing the same thing.

            So say what you found offensive or ignorant, and we can go from there. Most of the time, comments are made by people with little or no education – or self-learning – or take a purely psychological perspective on social issues, which, by the way, you appear to do yourself, for instance, claiming that a suitable response to being cyberbullied is to turn off the computer, to simply not respond.

            Out of sight, out of mind – is that your way of looking at the world?

          • I’m going to take my own advice and extricate myself from this discussion as much for your good as mine. I will not be replying any further to this thread. Have a good night.

    • Have you ever written to a company to complain about a bad product or poor service?

      • I have written to complain to a company but always in a direct, polite manner, not in a humiliating way. I find it is easier to get people’s cooperation when you are straightforward and not insulting.

        • The problem is that offence is taken, not given. Legislation based on how you made somebody feel is very dangerous. There are already laws against harassment and libel. Are you suggesting that making someone feel humiliated should be a crime?

        • Do you want the law to enforce manners?

          You have a right to say insulting things to another person, as long as you’re not threatening them with harm. You can say or write anything to me and it will roll right off, because my self esteem isn’t dependent on what’s going on in the private thoughts and emotions of another person. But if it DID upset me to the point where it somehow wrecked my life, wouldn’t that be MY problem, not yours? Your words cannot directly cause me to be miserable, they cannot cause anything at all! It is in the way I hear and respond to what you say that causation takes place.

          I’m stunned by the number of comments in this thread embracing the idea that our thoughts and words should be scrutinized by law enforcement and judges, and that individuals who express offensive views should have their property seized and their freedoms curtailed so that the offended may continue to live in their bland Stepford dystopia.

          • Wow, that’s scary. This is one of those realms of law and politics where the USA still has an advantage: free speech is protected here more vigorously than nearly anywhere else on earth. We might such at healthcare and equality but at least we’re free to unleash torrents of offensive speech in most situations.

          • I agree with you that, for the most part, insulting words should not be penalized under the law. But I disagree with you that you, or anyone for that matter, has the right to insulting things to another person, you maybe should have a right under the law of man, but under God’s law, you have no right. My point to someone who would take the stance opposite yours is that just because it is immoral doesn’t mean it should be illegal. My point to you is that just because it should be legal, doesn’t mean you should do it. But I will point out something in your argument that I disagree with to a further level. I don’t think being bothered by another persons opinions of me has anything to do with myself esteem. I think it has to do with a matter of justice, if a person thinks I am a pedophile and wrongly accuses me of being one, is that not unjust? Or even if the person doesn’t accuse me of it but holds the opinion that I am one (they would obviously have to tell me for me to know) is not that injustice? My point is that that persons thoughts and emotions likely affect my relationship with that person, and if they hold an unwarranted opinion of me, they are being unjust. Because words do hurt, self-esteem has nothing to do with that, vulnerability with others, however does. If I am not vulnerable with others, I most-likely won’t get offended or hurt. If however I am vulnerable I will.

          • I agree with most of what you said, especially the comment that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I get a little queasy at phrases like “under God’s law” because everyone has a unique idea of what that means and when people start trying to assert that they know God’s law, it often causes conflict. Not that you’re trying to push any such agenda. Rather than saying someone does or doesn’t have rights under God’s law, it might be less problematic to simply point out that our thoughts and words bring about consequences, and when we’re judgmental, cruel, and unforgiving, we are operating in a manner that creates suffering for ourselves as well as for others.

          • [redacted due to not wanting to bother with this thread anymore]

          • That is great for you to have enough self esteem to not let what others say bother you. The problem in a lot of these cases is it involves teenagers. The teenage mind is still developing and for many of them they do not have the self-esteem to be able to ignore what others are saying. For many young people they base what they think about themselves on what others think about them.
            Is it right to do so? No, but for many of them that’s the way it is.
            I don’t think many judges will take steps against “bullying” unless it is a more severe case. While not always the case the Canadian courts still seem to recognize common sense.

          • I fully agree, and after posting my original comments I gave a lot of thought to the problems faced by kids who are taunted and psychically abused via social media and in real life. My first reaction was against the particular law in question, which I do think is absurd. But being against that law in no way means that I endorse the idea that kids should just suck it up and take the abuse without any assistance from their elders. We adults have an obligation to step in where we can be helpful, hopefully shy of putting people in jail for the mere act of stating an opinion.

            In most of the states there are already laws in effect that can be used for prosecuting serious verbal abuses. I think this is the way to go, to keep the law out of it until the abuse rises to the level of a crime under other definitions such as libel/slander and physical threats (AKA terroristic threats.) In addition, there are civil remedies for certain forms of verbal injustice, although the weakness of these is that they’re often employed only after the damage has been done. Suing a bully after a teen commits suicide doesn’t help the deceased, obviously!

          • But why not let law do it? You make threat of harm you get busted. Do not need thought control Human Rights Commision waste for thise. Just more non value added waste really.

            But people should be able to freely publish opinion that is non threatening. Trouble with dumb political commisions is they run on politics of can not hurt some groups feelings.

            CBC will even censor comments on FN and equalty benefits. Macleans too has had tangles with the thought police.

        • How do you know that the person receiving the criticism doesn’t consider your complaint as harassing, intimidating, or insulting?

      • Yep, but unlike government I get inteligent responses.

    • I agree with you that it is wrong to purposefully try and humiliate someone. But I do not think that simply insulting someone should mean that, you find punishment under the law. I, like, others, do not like being called an idiot, but if I get called an idiot does that mean I should be able to charge someone? I guess if there was a pattern of this sort of behavior from a person, action may – in theory – be necessary. But I would suggest that there are measures I can take against being insulted. For example, I could keep my opinion to myself on discussion boards, I could also block said harasser from social networking sites like Facebook. As for more severe cases, I would be under the impression that the law already covers them.

  3. As a Nova Scotian, I’m thankful that Judges render decisions based on careful scholarship of jurisprudence, rather than on the legal interpretations of bloggers. :D

    • A voice of common sense! Thank you.

  4. Cyber bullying is simple to solve. Turn off the godamn machine or dont use the service. This debate reminds me of the people who used to complain about TV because they were to lazy to change the channel. Take responsibility for yourself and your family. Its.not my responsibility or the governments.

    • “Cyber bullying is simple to solve. Turn off the godamn machine or dont use the service”

      That makes no sense. How does turning off the godamn machine stop the bullies? It’s like saying if you don’t want to be physically bullied just shut your eyes while the bully pounds on you.

      • Bullies need targets. Bullies will always exist. Its not right but it is reality. We don’t live in a utopia. None of the deaths that have resulted from cyberbullying came about because of a single message. It was because of a barrage of messages or posts. Those may not have gone away but turning it off would have saved a life.

        • his analogy about closing one’s eyes was maybe not perfect but the point is still valid. Saying “if bullies are bullying you at the park, just don’t go to the park” is unjust because you should be able to use that park in peace.

          • I don’t disagree. It is unjust. Once again though we dont live in a perfect world. Would you rather avoid the park or get bullied to the point you kill yourself. At some point you have to take responsibility for yourself and say I would rather just not go there.

          • dave, the problem is that there is no where that you can go to avoid these bullies. It isn’t as simple as not going to the park. They are at the park. They are at school. They phone your home. They invade your computer. They make it so no place is safe and peaceful. They are predators. They are getting some sort of sick charge out of being powerful over someone. Who in this scenario should have to “turn off the computer?”….should it be the predator or the victim who has not done anything to bring down this wrath?

          • Like it or not bullies exist and always will. Given the choice between comitting siicide because of a cyberbully I would turn off my computer. I may not be able to stop the bully but I can do something to stop the damage to myself or my family.

          • You are talking about teenagers and you are concentrating only on the bullying that is occurring online. The truth is that the bullies are relentless. I knew a person who was bullied. They bullied her at school. They weren’t happy until the whole class had shunned her. They started calling her on the phone at home. When she changed schools, they approached people at the new school. There were no computers then but they would have bullied her on cyberspace as well. It is easy to try to make this about “cyberbullying” but turning off the computer is ridiculously simplistic. Until you make the bullies and their parents “hurt” by making their lives difficult ie. no internet service, they have the same attitude as you do, “bullies will be bullies”. Hey, let them bully, but it is not right and it is not acceptable and now it isn’t legal. Parents will have to take ownership for their kids bullying, or they will give up their internet.

          • Turning off the computer is an adult solution, but these are kids we are talking about. Please stop assuming adult solutions are the answer for kids who are being victimized this way. The only permanent solution is to stop the perpetrators. I’m not 100% convinced this law is the way to go, but at least it’s an attempt to direct the responsibility where it really lies.

          • What you’re describing sounds like harassment, which there are already existing laws against. Why the need for a new law when the existing ones covered things off – they just weren’t enforced.

          • It isn’t rocket science…once they prove the harassment took place via the internet as well, they will be able to suspend the service and lay charges. Parents are going to pay attention when they internet service is suspended because their children are harassing (bullying) other kids.

          • If you are raped by bullies in the park and then the guy who did it gave pictures of it to everyone else in the park, I’m sure there would be laws in place to charge that person. Why do we need separate laws because it was done over a computer. As for laws against hurting someones feelings, that is ridiculous.

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          • expecting kids to react the way adults would shows you just don’t get it.
            i have no beef with people saying whatever they like on the internet. just stand behind it. full name and address. would you still say that if everyone of your friends and neighbours knew it was your comment? if no, it should remain a private thought. if yes, then you have to accept whatever social fallout may arise as a result. speech might be free but words have consequences.

          • LOL Right… Internet without anonymity is not Internet – get a grip. Go back to old media where you belong.

            Back to topic…

            I was bullied in high school for a while like a LOT of people. You know real bullying includes things such as, direct face-to-face threats, actual physical violence, public real-life name-calling and shaming, etc.

            Even if I only got bullied for a short time after arriving a new school in grade 9. I know that cyberbullying pales in comparison to every other kind of real actual bullying.

            Cyberbullying is a joke compared to what goes on in the real world (including the adult world – even though we tend to ignore it, dismiss it, and don’t actually call it ‘bullying’ when it occurs). Everyone who experienced actual real bullying can agree cyberbullying doesn’t deserve all the attention. All this moral panic from attaching a cyber- prefix is ridiculous and counterproductive to the issue of real bullying.

          • The Internet is still the internet with or without anonymity… I don’t think you realize what the internet is do you? But is quite amazing what people will say when they can hide who they really are. That is the issue with some of the things on the internet. It is illegal to threaten someone’s life yet people do it quite easily when they are just know as “cyberdude2013”

        • And how would you “turn off” the conversations about these messages & posts? Turning it off would perhaps lessen the direct impact, but would not make the bullying behavior go away. Your solution sounds simple, but in reality it would never work.

    • This isn’t comparable to television. It is comparable to when people got repeated telephone calls that were sexually explicit, harassing and threatening. The phone service provider traced the calls and cut off the phone service of the perpetrator and police pressed charges. You do not have the right to use communications services in an illegal manner to harass and threaten others. Just like you don’t have the right to use them to conduct illegal business. What ever gave people the idea that they did.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • Hello?! If your kids are bullying someone on line then you should “take the computer away from them.” Why should my kids be denied the computer because your kids are narcissistic sociopaths who get a thrill out of driving their peers to commit suicide?
          By the way, I am kettle…you must pot…”Hayek’ is that your whole name? Maybe you should provide us with your name and address given that your so ready to admonish others for wanting privacy.

    • Dave, I’m curious, then…. What would your solution be for kids who are
      out there being bullied to the point of committing suicide? If you do
      not believe legislation is the answer, how would you choose to protect
      these kids? Its not enough to just turn of the machine… Bullying
      often follows these kids around from school to home, turning off the
      machine only deals with the issue of what’s seen while online.

      • They cannot be protected by a system.
        They need to be protected by people they know, or figure out how to BLOCK people online.

        Do some meditation, learn that sense of self must come from within in order to be able to establish emotional self control, and not to allow others to disturb that.

        It’s really not that complicated. I’ve been using the internet since I was like 10 in 1996. I’ve seen it all. The people who are freaking out about ‘internet bullying’ just have poor self control.

      • That is the job of parents. You are responsible for your own children. That means you may have to remove them from a school where they are being abused by other children if that becomes necessary. Enough spreading blame, take some responsibility for yourself and your loved ones.

        • And what happens when you remove them from one school & the problem follows the child to another school? Change schools again & again? The only thing that accomplishes is teaching the a$$holes who are doing the abusing is that they can get away with their abusive behavior – great life lesson there.

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    • You spelled “Street Smart Kids” wrong.

    • “Congrats! We will be using you as a example in our seminars”. That’s bullying,

      And way to spell it ‘kidz’ to appear hip.

    • Best be careful what you post :

      The definition of cyberbullying, in this particular bill, includes “any
      electronic communication” that ”ought reasonably be expected” to
      “humiliate” another person, or harm their “emotional well-being,
      self-esteem or reputation.”

    • “YOUR going to be famous???? It’s spelled “YOU’RE” going to be famous, pinhead!

      • How dare you humiliate someone online like that. Someone shut this person’s internet off right now.

    • you calling someone an idiot and pond scum? pretty humiliating-THAT’S BULLYING. wow, the hypocrisy you teach is actually scary. another 20 years EVERY move AND WORD we make/say will be governed by one law or another. welcome to the police state of canada

  6. These types of laws further enable people to avoid responsibility for their own emotions, and thus they become less self-confident and less self-reliant. Yes, bullying is inappropriate and should be challenged, but recipients of such behavior need to learn not to react, and to recognize that it is the bully who is the lesser person. Society is destroying itself by encouraging fragile emotions. Think “sticks & stones will break my bones, but names can never hurt me!” It is all too easy fault others for our negative emotional response, when the real problems, and the solutions, are within us.

  7. Yes, you are right, there has to be a line drawn in the sand. However, I would hope that those running the judicial system in Nova Scotia have more sense than you have given them credit for. I applaud Nova Scotia’s initiative and hope the other provinces follow this precedent soon.

    We encourage adults who live in abusive domestic situations (another form of bullying) to leave and get away from their abusers. But even as adults, that is hard for many of them to do for whatever the reason. Now compound that with the helplessness that many children being bullied feel. There are shelters for abused women and men but where can bullied children go? Their teachers or school officials? There is often little or no help there. Their parents, who the child often feels are already burdened with other things or are also not helpful. Where are these kids to turn? Often, even the parents do not know how to help their children.

    To a preteen or teenager, this is sometimes to much to bare. They are already hyper sensitive because of hormonal changes in their bodies, add to that a cocktail of a constant barrage of belittling comments that are out there for everyone to see and read, inappropriate physical contact, and any other form of torture a bully can think of you have a recipe for disaster and more often than not, these kids feel their only option is to take their own life.

    Also, why shouldn’t we spy on our teenagers? Our parents did it. It’s called PARENTING! If you don’t know what your child is up to, you should! We are so concerned with letting our children have their space and privacy, that we have forgotten that they still need rules and guidance. If you are the parent of a bullied child, there is nothing more difficult than to see their pain and not be able to take it away despite all your efforts. And if you are the parent of a bully…do something!

    Three cheers for Nova Scotia, it’s about time!

    • What makes you think that those running the judicial system in Nova Scotia have any more sense than the idiot politicians!

  8. What’s to prevent an overly litigious entity with deep pockets from demanding that this law be applied regular folk if those regular folk complain about said entity? This law could be read as a law against all electronic criticism. It’s just bad.

  9. The problem with this law is that it’s the interpretation of the victim. My son in the past month was accused by another kid that he was being bullied by him. The reality – the kid was jealous of how well my son was doing in the class they share together, and decided to make trouble for him. It was dealt with, but with this law, the parents could have just gone to the courts and started this process. That is wrong – because in a lot of scenarios, the bullying won’t be intentional. The way it’s set up it’s on you to start a counter-process to undo it, at great personal expense.

    This is bad!!

    • Your point about interpretation is an important thing to consider. My daughter has heard so much about bullying intervention through school that she considers personal slights, such as a classmate ignoring her while going past her on the bus, bullying. I think we need to be more precise with our terms, because lumping harassment, physical assault, verbal abuse, and simply being mean under the title of “bullying” does not help anyone.

      • Very true. I remember once in elementary school I was taking the bus home and was bringing my skates, helmet, and backpack with me (we skated at school and I needed to bring them back home for hockey practice). This girl told me to give her my spot on the bus. I didn’t want to stand carrying skates, a helmet, and my backpack, so I said no. She started stomping on my foot, and after the third time she stomped on my foot I called her a loser.

        She told her parents and they called the school and I got called into the office the next day. After explaining what happened (she left out the foot stomping), I wasn’t in trouble. But if she went straight to the police and a judge looked at this without me getting to defend myself… who knows what would happen?

        Just because you feel you were bullied, it doesn’t really mean you were. I wonder how much of tax payer money will be wasted on this.

        • She should have been charged with assault & battery.

  10. Hey if bullying becomes a crime then maybe we can jail all politicians!! WIN!!!

    • Hell even a large percentage of judges, prosecutors, police officers, correctional officers, probations officers lawyers, etc. could be considered ‘criminal’ and jailed if bullying becomes a crime!! AWESOME X 2

      • Silly Hayek thinks the same laws apply to politicians, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers ect…

  11. So report every little detail, of every comment that could be taken negatively, and flood the courts. They want petty incidents, let the NS Government pay $1500/hr for a Judge to read Facebook Posts.

  12. More wackos writing laws…DUH!!

  13. What would happen if folks raised their kids to be kinder to others? They learn from their elders and our leaders. Are you a good example? Our leaders tend to be bullies. Many parents are as well. Rather than trying to control human behavior through poorly written laws, we might be better off creating good citizens.

  14. Girl is raped. Girl is bullied about it. Solution? Make crazy cyber bullying laws!
    If I was investigated every time I “bullied” someone online, every judge in the world would be tied up in the cases.

    Half the posts in this thread could be considered bullying. I posted “my potato creates better quality pictures than your video camera” to some video on youtube the other day. I wonder if I humiliated him for not having the newest iPhone to make high quality videos, and now some judge needs to decide what happens, and decide if I need to give him money in a civil suit. The good thing is someone replied to my comment telling me my username was stupid, so now I can sue them and get my money back.

    Being pathetic can be a new occupation. Go around just trying to illicit people making fun of you. Make a basketball instructional video wearing a ridiculous outfit and missing the net by 20 feet every time. Then sue everyone who says anything that I found hurt my self esteem or humiliated me. “Nice t-shirt, where did you get it, the toilet store? And why make an instructional video on something you do worse than my 4 year old sister? Even she can hit the backboard every once in a while!” BOOM! He gets banned from electronics, gets caught using them, and I sue him for $$$!

    • lol well said sums up the whole issue hilariously!

    • Seems a paranoid statement to me. I’m more inclined to trust a judge to make wise interpretations of this law than self-centered, paranoid, ranting sociopaths worried that they’ll no longer be allowed to spew online.

      Be it said that I agree that insulting people isn’t a crime, but it isn’t a human right either. Plenty of people live full, productive, happy lives without insulting a single person. It is not an activity needed to maintain your human dignity; actually it’s the exact opposite,.insulting people usually robs you of your dignity. Democratic and private institutions curtail insulting, demeaning behavior all the time if it is sufficiently disruptive or harmful. I don’t have a particular problem with regulating behavior like this, be it online or on a city street.

  15. Bad as the law is let’s realize that the cruelty is being published for a wide audience. Turning off the computer stops that one person from seeing what it being said, but the peers of the young person are seeing the messages on Facebook and such. That is a profoundly humiliating experience that makes no place safe.

    I agree that the law is poorly crafted, but it should be recognized that these bullies are publishing their work, potentially to hundreds of other young people. It is the publication that makes the bullying so powerful and damaging.

    • Yeah, but really you can’t force a person to be nice to another person. It’s sad but it’s true. Should it really be illegal to say something bad about another person? I don’t know that it should be. I found as I got older bullying just stopped.

      In elementary school I got bullied a lot, then in high school just a little in my first couple years, hardly any in my last two, then there was zero bullying throughout university, and now I have a career and can’t even imagine being bullied any more.

      The internet makes bullying easier in a lot of ways, but it’s also a big help. When I was a little kid computers weren’t nearly as popular as they are now, and there wasn’t much I could do. I was bullied at school then was lonely at home. A few years later I got a computer at home and could meet friends online, and at least I had people to talk to. No matter how unpopular you are, you can always go online and at least have people to talk to. I wish I had that sooner, I was a pretty sad kid.

  16. I don’t see the issue really, I do believe that judges are capable of discerning between frivolous, petty call-ins from butthurt trolls and someone who can demonstrate repeated abuse despite being asked to be left alone. Just be careful with how you word things? Hopefully you and others can learn to be constructively critical without directing verbal abuse towards emotionally fragile youths. We’ll see how this law pans out; hopefully it’s put to good use. If one kid is saved from suicide by this it will be worth the unnecessary cases that are thrown out or result in a slap on the wrist for being a stupid troll.

  17. “So if a kid disrespects another kid on Facebook”? Disrespects? The use of this ignnorant, slang term is at odds with the manner in which the article is otherwise written.

  18. Sorry, but Its a good start the internet is way too far out of control, there is way too much harmful defamation, slander and people being harmed and abuse on the internet, just Google “yelp extortion”,

  19. Idiotic. Oops…I just cyberbullied someone !

    I think they should criminalize certain actions. Putting up photo’s of someone’s genitilia (without permission , lets not target the porn stars) should be illegal. Heck , go all the way and any nudity without permission should be illegal. (But if you’re walking around in a bathing suit in public , you’re fair game ..sorry )

    Name calling and fake stories you’re pretty much stuck with. That happens orally in the school yard all the time.

    No impersonating the victim. If youre going to say something nasty , sign your own name to it. This way readers can at least decide you’re crazy we’re not listenning to you. I’d also accept a pen name , but definately not the victims name or anything close to it.

    After that , there’s a certain amount of bullying all kids must live through. Not much we can do about it. Assault is already illegal. Rape is already illegal. I think making nude photo’s without permission public would be the last loop hole for major personal embarassment and we gotta live with the small stuff as the price of a free society.

    • Well put. I pretty much agree with you.

    • No you didn’t cyber bully. In order to cyberbully, you need to be much more persistent and show intent to cause harm to another person. You don’t even come near to that.

      I was bullied when I was a kid, and I in turn bullied others. Each time, adults intervened, sometimes teachers, and sometimes parents. This law is about developing tools so

      • that schools, parents, and police can do something about the most extreme cases.

  20. They need to be protected by people they know, or figure out how to BLOCK people online.

    Do some meditation, learn that sense of self must come from within in order to be able to establish emotional self control, and not to allow others to disturb that.

    It’s really not that complicated. I’ve been using the internet since I was like 10 in 1996. I’ve seen it all. The people who are freaking out about ‘internet bullying’ just have poor self control.

    • So if Anthony Weiner sent you pics of his – you would just accept that?

      • I would delete them, block him and get very drunk with some friends in order to forget.

  21. This comment was deleted.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • People should have some common sense about what to post and what not. But sometimes situations get out of hand.

        I don’t know that one can say the girl in question was a willing participant. She was participating in something, but sex is complicated and at the best of times a girl might need some persuasion. so to say she was willing, or agreed to, cannot be stated as a fact either.

    • Two young men were charged for distributing pornography. I gather this part about cyberbullying is in part to stop the kind of thing happening whereby everyone contributed to the passing on of the photo.

  22. Idiotic? Moronic? Or just sack full of hammers stupid? Their elevator carries a load with a brick short that doesn’t go to the top, where the attic is full of toys and there is a deck with a few cards short. Please feel free to take over.

  23. I’m not even going to apologize for this: if you can let yourself get bullied over the internet, you are weak and deserve what you get. I would imagine if someone tried to insult me over the phone, I’d just hang up – same thing.

    • Right on Steve!

      They deserve what they get! Time for them to grow up and join the real adult world. Until then, children should be spending more time playing with Lego, rather than the internet.

    • And if they insult you to your person – your username, Steve ‘Strong’, and tell you you don’t know what you’re talking about, then what. I have tried your way, when my niece Sarah told a lie about me, but I didn’t know whether she made up the lie or whether it was told to her. I let it go and I’m not sure I should have. It just left people – family – thinking that I was nasty to someone on the phone when I called the hospital over a family member in intensive care. Sometimes, in order to protect their own reputations, people in such situations lie, to protect their jobs, as in this case, there had been no one there to take my call in the middle of the night as my father lay dying. I was told to call back. I didn’t get angry, just told them they needed to get organized up there.

      • That’s my real name – Stephen Andrew Strong. I’m not trying to make out like I’m a tough guy or anything, I just don’t see how anyone with any amount of self-worth can say that they can be bullied over the internet. People can say whatever they want about me, I just don’t give a $hit. I don’t go run and hide when someone laughs at my misfortune. Parents, teachers and community leaders should adopt social standards that make our children mentally stronger but they don’t. All I hear is how everyone tells our kids that they are “special” and that no one has the right to hurt them. Grow up – the world sucks and I’d rather have offspring who can deal with life early on rather than bury my child after suicide. I don’t condone violence either: I abhor it…just for the record.

  24. And what happens when Harper`s or other`s are in the same.

  25. What a badly written article – which is actually quite typical of Macleans lately

  26. Cyberbullying is much more than hurting someone’s feelings, and I am appalled that you take this issue so lightly. I understand that this is your opinion, and you have every right to it, but I don’t think it would hurt you to be a little more empathetic for those who have gone through cyberbullying or bullying of any sort. For more than two years of my time in high school, I was subjected to severe abuse over Twitter, not by a single bully, but a group of 7 or 8 people that I’d done absolutely nothing to. My school’s administration claimed that they would do something about it, but nothing was done until one of the bullies insulted the principal on his Twitter account – that bully was suspended but nothing else was done for me. I WAS absolutely being humiliated over the internet – they were calling me names, spreading rumors, and posting things about my personal life (ex: relationships, family, etc). I was at my absolute lowest point in my life – I had virtually no self-esteem left whatsoever. It was difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning because I knew I would have to face them at school. I’m lucky I was strong enough to make it through, to be honest, because not everybody is, and we’ve seen this time and time again in the news. People take their own lives over this! For those who have never experienced cyberbullying, it’s easy to say that I was being a baby or that I was overreacting but that is not the case. This has had a lasting effect on my life – I still have a low self-esteem, and I’ve developed severe anxiety. I cannot walk into a room with confidence anymore; instead, I walk into a room and instantly feel like everyone is secretly thinking bad things about me or whispering about me to their friends. Cyberbullying is not just hurting someone’s feelings, it is hurting someone’s self image and possibly their mental health. I wish that during that horrible time in my life that I’d had the option to reach out to the police about these people. I wish that it could have stopped and I wish that I was still able to look at myself and be truly happy with who I am. But that was taken away from me – you may say that it’s my own fault that I let it get to me, but when people say things about you for such a long time, it gets easy to believe it, and that’s exactly what happened. Sometimes the insults become too hurtful to ignore. I wish people would understand that cyberbullying, and bullying in general is a huge problem in our society and it’s not harmless. I’m happy that those who are going through the same thing that I’ve experienced are now able to stop it before it gets out of hand. I am absolutely ecstatic about these laws.

    • I agree with what you say, including the idea that it isn’t just cyber bullying that can be so harmful to a person but bullying in general – or harassment (not sure of the difference). And it isn’t just the effect on the person but the effect on their life – the damage to their reputation, and indeed, that is what happened in the case of the Parson’s girl.

      I have had it done to me too, in real life as well as online – and aimed directly at me. I imagine people are relating this to the girl who killed herself, but bullying also happens in a way that is directly aimed towards the individual, as what happened to me recently, online.

      A man started harassing me and taking the side of a woman who was making false accusations against me, in a discussion forum following an article in a local newspaper. He had already done so before and couldn’t wait for a chance to do so again, it seemed. He did such a good job of it, and my responses to the two of them seemed so much like just an angry-person-for-no-reason that the moderator deleted – get this – she deleted my comments. The female commenter finally realized she had made a mistake in addressing her comment to me and said I’m sorry, to me. But she failed to explain to the bullying male, and she failed to explain to the moderator. Then, all the comments for that article were deleted. I have a copy of them and I may yet make them available, It has affected me, and likely has affected the way some perceive me to be. So if the moderator for Macleans doubts me, let me know and I shall send you a copy of the comments for that article.

  27. Free expression is not the freedom to humiliate and hurt others to devastation. So called free expression ruins lives since the internet serves as an encyclopedia of all possible information. We need people to take responsibility and suffer consequences for this type of free expression. Our Charter of Rights does not give us the right to inflict personal injury. The Cyber Safety Act will eventually fall to Legal avenues to allow this form of free expression. And those who wish to insult and hurt others can be free to do so once again. So Jesse Brown can insult anyone and be safe based on his freedom of expression. Any one have naked pictures of Jesse?

    • Our Charter of Rights guarantees:

      (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

      The idiot politicians in Nova Scotia must have at least someone amongst their members who is able to read, and perhaps even understand the Charter; with full reasonable expectation that their new idiot dumbstick law unconscionably contravenes the Charter.

      There are already laws in place to adequately protect us and provide legal remedies for liable and defamation.

      For those who wish to ignore our Charter, i.e freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression; then they might consider moving to a country where they would be more comfortable; one that embraces their primitive values, i.e, Pakistan, Afganistan, Iran, Syria, etal; where disputes are settled on a daily basis with bombs!

      Surely we don’t want to descend to a primitive barbaric kind of society enforced by Muslim countries, just because a few whimpering, whiney social misfit school-girls having a bad day, wish to engage in their monthly temper tantrums until they grow up, and their hormone levels finally attain some measure of equilibrium.

  28. Please do take into account that with out this law that cyber bullying will just get worst this way least the familys can try to stop it and deal with it also

  29. Sounds like another law written by someone who did not think much about what they were putting into it…and enacted by a a legislative body who didn’t even bother to read it.

  30. I would hate to live in a world where I am ‘protected’ from being offended, who sets the standard of what is ‘offensive’ I have a right to be offended and deal with it like a grown-up.. You also have the right to be ‘offended’ by what I do or say, but please, let’s keep the law out of it. As this article says, we already have all the legal tools necessary to deal with hate speech, slander, libel etc

    • If you had bothered to read the other messages you might have realized how redundant your words are. This isn’t simply about being ‘offended.’

      Yes, I find your comment offensive, as I have been cyberbullied, and harassed in the real world, and I know you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Moreover, I don’t know any way of identifying A Cartwright so it’s a good thing you protect yourself by maintaining anonymity – protect your reputation, if you have one, and from being seen as rather unknowledgeble about this subject., otherwise you might have people on your street pointing at you and excluding you from neighbourhood parties, and more intelligent get-togethers if they or you were capable in the fist place.

      • And should the neighbors exclude A Cartwright from their parties, then A Cartwright can accuse them of ‘bullying’ him by means of exclusion.
        In today’s society anything and everything can be construed as bullying depending on how one chose’s to interpret the definition of bullying. IMO bullying has become an extremely over-used word that will probably become meaningless in the not to distant future.
        Mr Brown makes good points in his piece. Given the lax definition of the word today we are all guilty of bullying in one form or another. Even you Sue McPherson are guilty of cyber-bullying A Cartwright with your comment to him/her.

        • Cartwright doesn’t mind feeling “offended”, he says, as though bullying is nothing more serious than that. That’s why I informed him that there were other comments, and views, right here on this page, that he could read. And they’re about bullying, not about being “offended.” Bullying isn’t about being offended, even if you feel “bullied”. If you keep not reading properly what was written, and others comment on that, that’s not bulllying on their part.

          Being excluded from one type of party isn’t bullying, even if it happens constantly, but if a person is excluded from everything, such as workshops, or jobs applied for, for no real reason except to contribute towards the isolation of that person, who may be viewed as different from others, then that might be.

          Yes, the word bullying is overused, and has become an umbrella terms for behaviour that should be analyzed in greater detail. Being insensitive in the way one points out another’s lack of comprehension isn’t bullying, unless the person’s comprehension is actually accurate, which Cartwright’s wasn’t.

          We used to use the term harassment, but perhaps that applied to adults only.

  31. Maybe we should gag government statism bullying via CRA.

    We all bully. Taxes, politicians, bosses, peers…gorilla TV advertising, sell us via slanted news to bomb other countries…bully mentality defines much of humanity itself. FN does it too, give them money or they will stall economic activity in court is bullying. HRC is about bulling, can not tell the opinion or truth or you will be bullied.

    The real issue is schools teach high need for conformance and it conflicts with independant self worth, and ignores how to cope and deal with bullies and propaganda. We raise kids for low self esteem conformance, so they are easily led. It in itself is sly brainwashing.

    The answer is to teach kids they do not have to be loved by everyone, they are individuals that need to know how bulling works and how to deal with it.

    But the system will not see the reality, as the kids might latter question statism bullying.

  32. Sometimes laws like this are needed because we have not done enough to protect children. Yes, parents should be accountable. Disagree? Here’s just one example – Think back to the last time you were at a kids’ hockey game and witnessed kids on the ice bullying other players. Did you look up in the stands? 9 times out of 10 there that kid’s parent is a bully themselves. Kids learn what we teach them and get into trouble when we don’t teach them. As parents, we are accountable for our kids’ behaviour. The challenge is that “it takes a village to raise a child”, and so your job as a parent becomes harder when other parents aren’t doing their jobs. On top of this, we have to now listen to belly-aching – not much different than the belly-aching we’ve been hearing from NRA supporters in the States – from people who unfortunately don’t realize that when we cross the lines of “freedom”, laws are put in to snap us back. Why do you think workplace violence and harassment legislation has been put into place? Remember the OC Transpo massacre? Bullying poisons the work environment and awful tragedies like OC Transpo can ensue. Sometimes by our actions or our failure to act, laws are created to fill the gap and then we are all subject to those laws, whether you behaved in kind in the past or not. Keep taking ADVANTAGE of our “freedoms” and we can then brace for more laws to come down the pike. That can apply to gun-control laws and to bullying.

    • You don’t need to bring hockey into this. Hockey is a sport that traditionally is
      about hostility, domination, and violence. It’s not the same kind of behaviour at all as the kind this article is about.

      We’re talking about cyberbullying meant to, or ”ought reasonably be expected” to “humiliate” another person, or harm their “emotional well-being, self-esteem or reputation.”

      I’m sure that many times, the bullying isn’t even planned. It’s something that
      grows, from a small beginning such as a picture. I’m sure there are other kinds
      too, but that is the example we are mostly thinking of when we talk about this –
      the girl who had a humiliating pic of distributed among her peers.

      I do agree that it is people themselves who should learn to take responsibility
      for the kinds of pics they distribute – whether of a girl in a sexual situation, or a mayor out for a couple of drinks downtown. Anyone can be made to look bad.
      Given enough time, anyone can be caught with their pants down, so to speak.

      Just as the new sexual freedoms have resulted in young people doing more and more of the kind of behaviours that can do damage to their own sense of selves as human beings, or sexual beings, so can the freedom to take pics using cell phones result in more and more indiscretions.

      • With all due respect, my point is that “bullying” is “bullying”, regardless of the forum. Restricting the discussion to cyberbullying leads to restricting the solution to something that does not sufficiently address the root cause. I believe that doing so also creates the risk of people having discussions on issues that again, do not deal with the root cause. When that happens, we can lose the critical mass required to make effective and meaningful change. The root cause, in my opinion: a failure to demonstrate respect and disregard for others’ dignity. I agree that bullying is not planned; predominantly, it is learned. When it is second-nature for parents to bully, the children that look to their parents for direction on how to behave in specific situations, inherently or intentionally, or who actually feel threatened by them, are likely to mimic the behaviour as a means of dealing with their own environments as we send them into society. Desensitization appears to be growing, and we’re dropping the ball. Hence, law intervenes. Laws, rules, policies are implemented to diminish the potential for chaos and are not the most effective way to influence proper behaviour – however, some form of these interventions are necessary and they become necessary as new concerns emerge. Preventing emerging issues often comes down to supervisors in the workplace, coaches on the rink, etc. and most importantly, as a source of consistency for children experiencing dissonance from other environments, parents in the home.

        • There are too many root causes. One that does apply in the case of hockey is the attempt to get ahead while putting the other side down, although it is the parents doing it, not the players. Parents want their kids to succeed. What are you going to do!

          I think, too, that bullying, while not planned may not even be being learned. it can be an instinct of survival – picking on that kid to prevent being picked on oneself. Being different is one reason why kids are bullied. they may not be one of the pack, whatever the pack is.

          I’m sure people were always insensitive. Maybe we’re hearing about it more now. Suicide is usually labeled as being due to mental illness. Do you believe that? Or is their a coverup every time it happens, whereby none of that person’s friends or relatives is going to tell the truth about how they are really treating the victim. If I should die, is anyone going to tell the truth? See Story of my life, on my web site.

          Anybody is capable of “bullying” or whatever it is. Just like harassment, including sexual harassment, it’s decent people who do it.

  33. I think you should be careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings anyways. Why is this even an issue? be nice, and you’re fine.

  34. This comment was deleted.

    • I’m the father of a young boy to whom you would so eloquently refer as a “mentally retarded person”, Jack. Can you please elaborate for us what exactly you mean by that ever-so-profound question you ask at the end? Remember to dumb-it-down for those of us that might come from “the idiot left”.

  35. I guess the point is that, after the fiasco with Rehtaeh Parsons, the police realized they were helpless to act against what was going on – the distribution of a photo of the girl that no one would want distributed if they had a choice, if it were a pic of them, and the continuation of the distribution of it and the taunting that came out of that, towards the girl.

    Laws aren’t always perfect he first time around. It just gives the authorities permission to try to stop such things from happening before they happen, and after, if need be.

    Any law give the police or the courts the opportunity to make life hard for the person who breaks it – from jaywalking to I don’t know what. It doesn’t mean that they always will. We never get to hear about the ones who don’t get charged or questioned.

    To diminish this and treat it, or the authorities’ intentions, as a way to spy on people for being “offensive” is itself demeaning a law that might well do some good, and might prevent vulnerable children and adults from doing themselves harm because they are being bullied.

  36. What bothers me a lot here is that the legal community, having given its opinion, sits back contently and waits for somebody else to mount a legal challenge on Charter grounds. Why should the public bear the costly and difficult burden of a legal challenge when it’s abundantly clear the law is unconstitutional as written? Seems to me that before irreversible harm is done – and harm has already been done on several individuals, the profession, perhaps in the form of the Barristers Society, should bear some responsibility for addressing such laws.
    Lawyers get paid a hell of a lot more than the average college grad or non-grad who might find themselves the target of a Cybersafety order and suddenly having to beg, borrow, and steal to pay for representation. When members of the legal profession do nothing to put a stop to bad laws, one can’t help wondering if they see the laws as good for business, i.e., they are more interested in reaping the rewards – on the backs of their clients – than in justice.

    By the way, the CyberSCAN Unit does not appear to do any investigating, certainly not for the purposes of deciding whether a complaint merits invoking the Cybersafety Act. What CyberSCAN agents do do is apparently show up in someone’s home and threaten them with ordering the permanent loss of their phone, computer, printer, fax, etc.; thousands of dollars in fines; and up to two years in jail – without providing any opportunity for the accused bully to be heard before the order is issued, let alone find out who filed the complaint or its substance.

    In these first applications of the law, I am sorry to report that contrary to some of the commenters’ amazing faith in judges, they’ve already showed they cannot be relied on to apply the law “judiciously”, in the way it was intended. They do not raise the bar at all high, let alone discern between a complainant seeking to halt excessively abusive behavior/speech, and a complainant whose motive springs directly from their interest in financial gain. It’s a harmful law that violates rights as written and as applied, and in return for that harm, it does little or nothing to prevent another Rehtaeh Parsons from being victimized.