Distributing “intimate images” without prior consent ought to be illegal and carry a sentence of anywhere from six months to five years, says a new report that was expedited following the suicide of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons in April.

The report, received on Friday by newly minted Justice Minister Peter MacKay, makes nine recommendations, ranging from enhancing current criminal law responses to bullying, to modernizing investigative powers in the Criminal Code, and ensuring that all levels of government continue to build on initiatives to address the issue of cyberbullying.

“I will consider the report and its recommendations, which will help guide the way forward to ensuring our children are safe from online exploitation,” MacKay said in a written statement.

Minister MacKay reached out to me last week and in the past month NDP Minister Chisholm did as well. It’s nice to see the government come together to protect our children and loved ones from this type of crime.

Rehtaeh never got over the ugliness that someone would destroy her so easily for a simple laugh. That they walked away free and completely remorseless is a sad commentary on the present laws we have in Canada.

The report also recommends bringing the investigative powers of police into the digital age. “However, any time police investigate crimes, many of which involve new technologies or crimes, they are mostly using investigative powers that are out of date and have been barely modernized since the advent of the Internet,” the report says.

“The investigation of offences committed via the Internet, or that involves electronic evidence, would especially benefit from the availability of modern investigative tools.”

Cyberbullying and the Non-consensual Distribution of Intimate Images

Report Calls For Law Against Sharing Intimate Photos Without Consent