|An anti-cyberbullying law passed in Nova Scotia after the bullying and death|
of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons has been struck down by the
Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. (The Canadian Press)
The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has struck down an anti-cyberbullying law passed in response to the death of Rehtaeh Parsons, CBC News has learned.
The Cyber-Safety Act was the first law passed in Canada aimed at protecting victims of online harassment. The Nova Scotia government introduced it two years ago under intense public pressure after Parsons, a 17-year-old girl, was bullied, attempted suicide and subsequently died.
Parsons's family alleged she was sexually assaulted in November 2011, when she was 15, and bullied for months after a digital photo of the incident was passed around her school. She was taken off life-support after attempting suicide in 2013.
Two sources familiar with the case confirmed independently to CBC News that Supreme Court Justice Glen MacDougall has ruled the cyberbullying law must be eliminated right away — unlike other court decisions that have struck down legislation but offered politicians a one-year grace period to rewrite the laws.
The decision is expected to be released to the public at 1 p.m. AT.
Called too far-reaching
Nova Scotia was the first jurisdiction in Canada to try to regulate cyberbullying. Several other provincial governments were waiting for the law to be tested against a constitutional challenge.
The legislation authorized courts in the province to grant protection orders that limit what alleged cyberbullies can post online.
Critics called the law too broad and far-reaching.
This year, privacy lawyer David Fraser challenged it, saying the law violates Canadian freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
He argued the law's definition of cyberbullying encompasses everything from political advertising to online commentary. Fraser said the language of the law doesn't accomplish its intention — to protect victims.
It's not known whether the Crown will appeal the ruling.