The Cyber-safety Act, SNS 2013, c 2 came into effect in Nova Scotia this week. This act followed a high profile case of cyber-bullying that occurred in the province that was the final straw, so to speak, that led to a high profile report and the legislature to act with the creation of this act.
The act has some interesting points that should be intriguing playing out in case law. It establishes Cyber-bullying as tort where the victim can sue the perpetrator and more interestingly, is that if a minor commits cyber-bullying this act allows the victims to sue the parents of the minors who commit the cyber-bullying. Section 22(3) states:
Where the defendant is a minor, a parent of the defendant is jointly and severally liable for any damages awarded to the plaintiff unless the parent satisfies the Court that the parent was exercising reasonable supervision over the defendant at the time the defendant engaged in the activity that caused the loss or damage and made reasonable efforts to prevent or discourage the defendant from engaging in the kind of activity that resulted in the loss or damage.
Another interesting aspect of the act is that it creates a cyber-bullying investigation unit which has come to be named the CyberSCAN Unit, for a loose parallel, think Serious Incident Response Teams or Special Investigations Units, but for incidents of Cyber-bullying.
While it is often heard that “there oughta be a law”, the law itself does not resolve the issue and the act itself is not going to cause cyber-bullying to stop, education and prevention remains key. Nonetheless, this act represents an attempt by legislators to tackle a complex societal issue.