New legislation in BC to help people protect intimate images


VICTORIA – People who have had their intimate images or videos shared without consent have new supports to get them off the internet, stop their distribution, and seek monetary compensation.
With the Intimate Images Protection Act that came into force on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, the Province, in partnership with the Civil Resolution Tribunal has launched two new services. These services will help people who have had their intimate images shared without their consent quickly access self-help tools to diagnose their legal issues, get information about their rights and connect to supports.
This legislation covers intimate images, near-nude images, videos, livestreams and digitally altered images, or deepfakes.
“Circulating or threatening to distribute intimate images is sexualized violence and it can have devastating impacts,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “We are creating more legal options so that victims can get the justice they deserve on their own terms and making sure they have the tools and support to regain control of their lives.”
Existing criminal and civil legal options have been limited, complex and expensive, and people may feel uncomfortable taking legal action due to stigma. Under this new legislation, the tribunal can now order a person, a social media company or website to stop distribution and remove an intimate image from its platform. These applications can be made without notice and without naming a respondent.
In 2023, B.C.’s attorney general issued letters to technology companies advising them of the newly enacted Intimate Images Protection Act and their responsibilities under the law.
“The Intimate Images Protection Act reinforces our commitment to have robust enforcement against the unauthorized sharing of intimate images,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We are equipped to address these violations swiftly and effectively, enabling victims to stop the distribution of their intimate images and take back control. Perpetrators face stricter penalties, sending a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated.”
Distribution without consent can lead to significant financial consequences. The Civil Resolution Tribunal can order someone to pay fines of as much as $500 per day, if it is an individual, or as much as $5,000 per day, if it is a website, for not following the order to stop sharing. In Provincial Court, perpetrators can be ordered to pay significant damages of between $5,000 and $35,000, and the Supreme Court can award damages of more than $35,000.
In 2020, Statistics Canada reported an 80% increase in incidents reported to police of non-consensual sharing of intimate images across the country compared to the previous five years. Between 2014 and 2020, 48% of youth victims of non-consensual distribution of intimate images were victimized by an intimate partner or a friend.
To ensure that victims have dedicated services to support them, the Province is also launching the Intimate Images Protection Service. This service provides:
* emotional support, information and resources;
* help with applying to the Civil Resolution Tribunal; and
* assistance in communicating protection orders issued by the Civil Resolution Tribunal.
The Intimate Images Protection Service will work collaboratively with the tribunal to ensure trauma-informed information and support is available to victims throughout the process.
“Carson was a 12-year-old boy and nothing seemed to faze him, until one day it did,” said Ryan Cleland and Nicola Smith, the victim’s parents. “He was contacted on social media where they threatened to share his images. He was scared and made a snap decision to end his life. We are two broken parents trying to make sure this doesn’t happen to another family. If this is happening to you, please ask for help. You aren’t alone.”
“We know that the sharing of intimate images is currently the biggest cause for concern for both students and school staff, when it comes to sexual exploitation. It can cause tremendous pain, distress and harm. No one should be subjected to this abuse. The new reporting tool provides B.C. residents with an effective way to remove intimate images from the internet quickly, while also empowering them to seek justice,” said Jen Graham, program director, Children of the Street.
To access these new services to help them or their loved ones take back control of their intimate images and videos, anyone can now visit online: