Friday, December 11, 2015

Court strikes down Nova Scotia's cyberbully law

Rehtaeh Parsons-inspired anti-cyberbullying law struck down | Canada | News | Toronto Sun - Canadian Press:

December 11, 2015 - "A judge struck down a Nova Scotia law inspired by the death of Rehtaeh Parsons on constitutional grounds Friday, ruling it violates Charter rights to freedom of expression and liberty.

"Justice Glen McDougall of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia also declined a Crown request to suspend his decision for 12 months to allow the legislature time to amend the law.

"In his decision, McDougall said striking down 'offending provisions' of the law wasn't practical either because they are 'inextricably connected' to the act's definition of cyberbullying.

"'The act must be struck down in its entirety,' McDougall said....

"Lawyer David Fraser challenged the Cyber-safety Act on constitutional grounds as part of a case involving client Robert Snell, who was placed under a cyber safety protection order sought by his former business partner last December....

"Giles Crouch was granted an order under the act after he told a justice of the peace that Snell began a 'smear campaign' against him on social media.... The protection order prohibited Snell from cyberbullying or communicating with or about Crouch. It also ordered Snell to remove any online comments about Crouch.

"McDougall found Snell had engaged in cyberbullying as defined in the act, and he concluded the behaviour was likely to continue. However, his decision to strike down the law voids the protection order.

"Under the act, cyberbullying is defined as 'electronic communication ... that is intended or ought reasonably be expected to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to another person's health, emotional well-being, self-esteem or reputation'....

"'By casting the net too broadly, and failing to require proof of intent or harm, or to delineate any defences, the act limits the right to liberty in a way that has no connection with the mischief it seeks to address,' the ruling says.

"The judge goes on to say the protection order procedure is unfair because it fails to provide notice of a hearing to respondents, even if their identity is known or easily determined."

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