On May 1, 2017, the Alberta legislature passed Bill 202, which created the Protecting Victims of Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images Act (the "Act"). The Act seeks to protect individuals from having intimate images of them distributed over the Internet by making it easier for those individuals to sue for damages.
In particular, the Act provides that a person commits a tort (a wrongful act giving rise to a cause of action) by distributing an intimate image of another person without that person's consent or with reckless regard to consent. The only defense contemplated by the Act is if distribution of the intimate image is in the public interest. An "intimate image" for the purposes of the Act means a photograph, film or video in which the person depicted in the image is exposing him or herself and had a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of that image and at the time it was distributed. Importantly, a person does not lose the "expectation of privacy" by providing the image to another person or consenting to another person recording the image, in circumstances where the other person knew or ought to have known that the image was not to be distributed. The Act further provides that parents are not liable for their children distributing intimate images of others.
The Act provides that plaintiffs will not have to prove actual loss or damage arising from the distribution of the intimate image; rather, loss is presumed. Further, the Act gives Alberta courts a broad range of discretion in awarding remedies including damages (general, special, aggravated and punitive), ordering the defendant to account for any profits accrued as a result of the distribution, and an injunction. The Act will come into force on August 4, 2017.
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