Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia to Create Investigative Unit Devoted to Crack Down on Cyberbullying

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia to Create Investigative Unit Devoted to Crack Down on Cyberbullying

Article excerpt

Nova Scotia brings cyberbullying legislation

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HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government stepped up its fight against cyberbullying Thursday with legislation that could strip people of their phones and computers, impose hefty fines and clear the way for court action against online bullies.

Justice Minister Ross Landry outlined the provisions of the new Cyber-Safety Act, which includes a unique investigative unit dedicated to pursuing and penalizing so-called cyberbullies, while making parents liable for their child's bullying, if necessary.

"We will not allow cowards to make people's lives miserable online," Landry told a news conference at a high school in Halifax.

"We will insist that parents take responsibility for what their children are doing online. We will fight back."

The legislation would create a team of five investigators in the Justice Department, who would be trained to look into cyberbullying complaints and resolve them informally, if possible.

It's expected that team would be set up within six months at a cost of about $800,000 a year.

Bob Purcell, the department's executive director of public safety and security, said investigators would be able to identify an alleged cyberbully through their Internet Protocol address and talk to them about the activity.

He said that if it doesn't stop or can't be resolved, investigators could seek a prevention order that would allow them to seize smartphones, tablets and computers for evidence. They could also hand the matter over to police.

Purcell said officials could obtain a court protection order, which could prevent the person from contacting the alleged victim or talking about them online, remove their computer or phone or restrict their Internet access.

"There will be consequences outside the school system and for those matters that don't fall in the criminal system, we've set out other consequences," he said. "So, we're hoping that will deter people."

The legislation would include fines of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of up to six months if someone doesn't comply with a protection order. …

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