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Chatham-Kent police Chief Dennis Poole writes letter on proposed cyberbullying law

s police 8Letter to the editor from the Chief of the Chatham-Kent Police Service, Dennis Poole:

Why we need a new cyberbullying law

The government’s new bill to fight cyberbullying and combat illicit sexting has the full support of Canada’s police leaders and their organizations. We believe it is time for Canadians to join hands and draw a united line against those who terrorize and harass those who are vulnerable.

By making it illegal to distribute an intimate image of a person without their consent, Bill C-13 addresses necessary changes in the Criminal Code identified by a working group of federal, provincial and territorial officials. That working group also recognized the importance of updating our current laws so that law enforcement can conduct a thorough lawful investigation of this new offence and other crimes committed through the use of the internet.

We have seen from recent tragic events that we must take this problem seriously. We must help the victims and work towards deterrence. The current reality is that many criminals use new technology platforms to harass and threaten others, commit frauds, scams and violent crimes with little fear of being caught.

We are not suggesting that Bill C-13 is the total solution to cyberbullying. Education and awareness of community resources are also key. We need to promote the discussion of risks among families and our children.

Canadian police leaders also believe that while pursuing these criminals we must uphold the privacy rights of individuals. We concur with the Federal Privacy Commissioner who recognized that “law enforcement authorities need up-to-date tools to fight online crime at a time of when technologies are changing rapidly, and that this must be done in a way that respects Canadians’ fundamental right to privacy.”

Bill C-13 fills many of the evidentiary gaps that currently exist. For example, criminals now benefit from internet service providers that inadvertently delete evidence through shorter retention periods. Under the new legislation, a police officer with required grounds can ask the Internet company to preserve the evidence. Then if the police officer obtains a warrant from a judge, and only then, would the internet service provider be allowed and authorized to release the information.

Bill C-13 is a responsible public policy initiative to assist law enforcement in combatting cyberbullying, the distribution of non-consensual intimate images and the exploitation of digital technologies by those who commit crimes and who often do so today with impunity.

For more information visit Justice Canada’s paper on “Myths and Facts - Bill C-13″ which can be found at:

  • Henrie Timmers

    There are many critics of this bill, with excuses of “Big Brother,” violation of civil rights and invasion of privacy.
    To an extent, the critics are right that the law won’t stop the issue of cyberbullying,
    BUT… enforcement of the law will.
    What we need is strict enforcement by law enforcement officials, and for the courts to take a tough stance when a case comes before them. If the first ten cases brought before the courts receive the strongest penalty allowed, the message will become very clear, and the word will spread.