Cyber-libel: What is Canada doing to protect Canadians ?

Subject: Cyber-libel: What is Canada doing to protect Canadians ?
From: A concerned Canadian
Date: 2 Oct 2014

I do not claim to be a professional writer or an expert on defamation law by any means. I simply want to share my opinion/experience when I was cyber-libelled and hopefully provide some information or help to other numerous victims of this crime.

I am an immigrant to Canada, and as an immigrant I always relished in the immense privileges that I posses now as a Canadian citizen. I always took pride in the fact that this country offered me the freedoms to reach my potential and achieve all my goals and dreams. I also believed that as a law abiding, tax-paying Canadian citizen my rights and freedoms were protected by our Justice System. Unfortunately my beliefs shattered when I became a victim cyber-bullying , defamation-libel and breach of privacy . To this day I am speechless at the non existence of action by any government agencies regarding this matter.

After completing a Bachelor Degree I continued on pursue a Master Degree to become an Allied Health Care professional at the University of British Columbia. I recently graduated and started applying for jobs in my field. In the midst of applications I received a message from a friend that asked me whether I was aware that my private photos are on a public blog ( Horrified, I googled my full name and immediately a public site popped up that contained my private copyrighted photos with a horribly written paragraph bashing my character and questioning my integrity as a health professional.

I knew who had done this , as I sent them for his private use when we were dating . There is no need to go into the relationship with him, however it ended on a sour note. I knew this was his sick ploy of punishing me because I left. I learned he has done this in the past and I am sad to say he will do it again.

It took me about a week to take any action, I think I was in shock that a grown man would resort to this type of abuse. After the shock wore off I contacted the owner of the website to ask to have this post removed, to this day I did not hear back from him. I messaged a few friends that I trusted on Facebook to seek any information or advice. I also googled, a lot! I found a few helpful things. From what I understood there were three crimes committed against me: 1.defamation/cyber-bullying and 2. breach of privacy and 3. violation of copyright laws.

The Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch (CBAC) stated that “cyberbullying is type of harassment using new technology … use of social media, blogs, texting, instant messaging, or other internet avenues to engage in deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour intended to harm, embarrass, or slander someone” CBAC also states that “ defamation can be a crime under the Criminal Code, but only rarely … If someone has defamed you , you may also be able to sue for violation of your privacy under the Provincial Privacy Act” [1]

Ok. So what does this all really mean ? It means that yes there are laws against what has happened to me, therefore it is a crime. In fact, the CBABC website listed a series of actions that a victim of harassment or cyber bullying can take:

1.First, if the harassment is attempted to communicate with you, tell the person to stop.

This did not apply to my situation. The man that did this to me chose to hide behind the anonymity of the internet.

2.Call the police to report the problem. Record the details of every incident, including time, date, place, who was involved, and what was said and done. Keep letters, notes, voicemail messages, emails, texts, instant messages, and social media and internet posts. Give them to the police.

The first thing I did was call the non-emergency line of the police department in my city. The woman on the phone said there is nothing the police can do. How I said, the person committed a crime against me! She said I can go to the Small Claims court and file notice. After I called the information office regarding Small Courts Claims, I found out that they do not deal with matters of defamation and privacy as it is a matter for the Supreme Court.

I then decided to go to the police station and file a complaint against the perpetrator. The office was empty but I was made to wait an hour. The officer took me to a small room where I explained what happened. After a few round-about answers he said there is no law against what happened to me and it's just someone's opinion therefore the police cannot do anything. After I pushed him for some action he did say that he can make a phone call and ask the perpetrator to remove the photos on his computer and phone. That is all they can do? I thought ... that blew my mind!!! I returned the next day with articles that I obtained regarding Libel and Slander Act under the BC Law. I demanded to speak to someone who is in a higher position then the officer I spoke with the day before. I presented the articles and asked how what has happened to me is not a crime when BC Law states it is? I asked why are the police not getting more involved.

The question that was fired at me the most was “ you shared the photos with this person willingly? ”. This statement implies that the upload of my private photos on a public internet forum is somehow my fault. This is a lie! First of all, “Canada’s Copyright Act was changed in 2012. One key change was that photographs were now treated as any other “artistic work” such as paintings or drawings. Copyright law gives the owners of artistic works certain exclusive rights to exploit their works, such as reproducing the photograph or selling the photograph. In the case of photography this means that the copyright owner of a photograph can, in most cases, prevent others from copying that photograph. With the exception of photographs taken during the course of employment, the photographer will always be the owner of the copyright in a photograph [2].One very significant right granted to the owner of Canadian copyright in a work, is the exclusive right to reproduce the work, (or any substantial part of the work) in any material form whatever. Copyright comes into existence automatically, at the time the work was created, and, in the case of most works, it continues until the end of the calendar year in which the author of the work dies (regardless of whether the author has sold or assigned the copyright in the work or not), and continues for an additional period of 50 years “ [3].

Because I took the photograph of myself, I was automatically the copyright owner of my image. And, yes l gave permission for one man to view my copyrighted work, however I did not give him permission to reproduce my images and make them public through the use of the internet. Again, what this man did is against the Copyright Act of Canada. The man that published my copyright photos on the internet without my consent committed a crime. Period.

The officer was somewhat more comforting than the one I spoke with previously, and did sympathise with the fact that what I'm going through is tough . He said that all they can do is contact the perpetrator and ask him to remove my photos from his computer and phone.

Ok. Better then nothing!! Although I am completely disappointed with the lack of action by the people who are supposed to serve and protect Canadians, but I guess this is better than nothing.

The next step I took was to contact civil lawyers that specialize in defamation. I did find a few in Vancouver that I thoroughly believed would do an amazing job. I also got really great information for free and some legal advice. The lawyer wrote a cease and decease letter. Personally, I know that suing someone is very expensive and time consuming however, I was informed that I have 2 years to take legal action [1]. This option is not off the table.

I took screen shot of the site before I reported the use of my photos on the website to the (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) DMCA , and they removed my images off the site. However, the defamatory comments remained. I also contacted google to see if they can remove this site when you search my name on google, however they said there is nothing they can do. Eventually I found an online company that specialized in removing these types of posts completely. They also have them removed from popular search engines such as google. They are incredibly expensive though. However, they are worth the money. The company also offered a lifetime guarantee that they will remove any reposts for free. Which to me is an invaluable safety net.

So what's next ? What did I learn ? I learned that I am the biggest advocate for myself and no government body that I contacted was willing to help me protect my rights. Luckily, I have the resources to seek appropriate information and take action.

However, it is horrifying that there is a possibility of someone/anyone posting a Canadian’s full name, pictures and defamatory statements for the public to see without any involvement from the Canadian government. I have attempted to contact many government organizations/agencies regarding this, however they keep referring me to other organizations or saying that it is not part of their mandate. Is it not part of the Canadian government's mandate to protect their citizens ?

Unfortunately, being posted without consent on this site happens very frequently, and it happens to anyone. There is no immunity here. The Canada's Cyber Security Strategy addressed that “cyber technologies makes us more vulnerable to those who attack our digital infrastructure to undermine our national security, economic prosperity, and way of life” and there is a need for the government to “implement a cyber security strategy to protect our digital infrastructure” [4] . This is the first step toward eradicating cyber-crime and cyber- hate. However, there is no mention about cyber-bullying, defamation, privacy breaches and copyright laws in regards to internet safety in the Canada's Cyber Security Strategy.

Should we not as Canadians demand for our government to take action and protect our digital selves from cyber-libel ? Unfortunately, the internet is evolving and the platform for cyber-hate crimes such as cyber-bullying and cyber-libel is getting greater and greater yet the law is not catching up.

I am still contacting government agencies and bodies to see what else can be done. However, I cannot do this alone. If anyone has a particular passion or interested in stopping defamation:cyber-libel please contact me. In addition, if you are currently a victim of a similar situation please feel free to contact me and I can provide you any additional information that I have.

Here are a few resources/links I found helpful :

1.CBAC, Stalking, Criminal Harassment and Cyberbullying ( Vancouver CBA, 2011), online: CBA
2.Gil Zvulony, Legal Rights in a Paragrpah ( Copyright Law, Internet Law, Privacy Law, Trademark Law 2014)
3.Kerr & Nadeau, Copyright Law in Canada. Retrieved on October 1, 2014 from
Public Safety Canada. Retreived October 1, 2014 from



I too have written letters and nothing. Police, did nothing. So how do I get in touch with you? I want to make a difference as being put on the site almost killed me. :(

Anisa, I would really like to touch base with you. I went through the same thing and wrote a few letters to parliament. Was passed around from person to person. How may I contact you? You say to contact you but there is no info on this page to do so. :(

The motto in life is trust nobody the world has a lot of sick people out there, and absolutely no support.