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Media companies warned to comply with BC’s new Intimate Images Act

The recently-passed law aims to protect "sextortion" victims

Robyn Bell
May 4, 2023
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Media companies warned to comply with BC’s new Intimate Images Act

The recently-passed law aims to protect "sextortion" victims

Robyn Bell
May 4, 2023
Photo: BC Government Flickr
Photo: BC Government Flickr
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Media companies warned to comply with BC’s new Intimate Images Act

The recently-passed law aims to protect "sextortion" victims

Robyn Bell
May 4, 2023
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Media companies warned to comply with BC’s new Intimate Images Act

BC Attorney General Niki Sharma, sent a letter on Thursday to major social media, dating app, and adult content companies advising compliance with the new Intimate Images Act, which Sharma confirmed has now passed into law. 

The act aims to protect people from having intimate images or videos circulate online without consent—which can be especially difficult to rein in when posted to larger social networks. 

These enforcements come at a time when online sexual extortion, or “sextortion,” cases are on the rise in Victoria. According to the VicPD, teenage boys in particular have become targets for this form of sexual violence, where intimate images are used as blackmail. In 2022, 59% of sextortion victims in Victoria were young men—some as young as 13—and 41% were young women. 

In March, multiple local victims filed a class action claim against a former Red Barn Market employee who posted intimate photos and videos that he recorded without consent in the women’s bathroom of the grocery store and which circulated online in 2015 and 2016. 

Noncompliance could lead to injunctions and paying damages 

The letter was shared with companies like Meta, Google, Tinder, Grindr, Pornhub, and OnlyFans to outline the enforcement of this law. Sharma expects to meet with representatives from these companies to understand what steps they will take to comply. So far she has only met with Google, saying the talks were “very productive.”

Sharma expects companies to update their policies in alignment with BC’s legislation, which will be enforced by regulation in the coming months.

Companies that do not comply will face legal repercussions, such as injunctions and an expectation to pay damages. Sharma did not say what the timeline for removing images would be, but said that victims will soon be able to access a website created with the Civil Resolution Tribunal to file complaints “24/7” to get an order quickly from the tribunal.

While many of these companies are not local to BC, Sharma insists that they will need to follow BC law in any cases involving a BC citizen.

“It is complicated when you come into international jurisdictional challenges, but we do have ways to enforce orders beyond our borders through the BC court,” Sharma explained.

The onus will not fall squarely on these companies—perpetrators are also expected to take measures to remove content that has been flagged as being shared without consent. But Sharma points to how quickly images can spread online, making it necessary to place some responsibility on these companies.

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Robyn Bell
Newsletter Writer
TWITTER:
robyn@capitaldaily.ca

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