The CBA urges amendments to improve Bill C-13

  • May 26, 2014

Ottawa — The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) says that Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, needs amending to ensure that only true “cyberbullying” will be prosecuted, and that Canadians’ privacy interests are protected when data is seized.

Bill C-13 creates a new Criminal Code offence of ”distributing intimate images without consent” and brings back “lawful access” amendments that have been characterized as increasing police powers to infringe the privacy rights of Canadians. 

“The CBA supports the intention underlying both aspects of the bill – protecting young people from online bullying and bringing police search and seizure powers up to date with current technology. We are proposing amendments to better meet those goals,” says Marian K. Brown of Vancouver, executive member of the CBA’s National Criminal Justice Section.


In its 25-page submission containing 19 recommendations, the CBA notes that while Bill C-13 is intended to better protect young people, “existing child pornography provisions already criminalize the dissemination of sexual depictions of children.  The real change in Bill C-13 …concerns the unlawful use of “intimate images” involving adults.”

The CBA recommends that the legislation be amended so only intentional cyberbullying is prosecuted.  “While the cyberbullying provision is expressly aimed at criminalizing malicious conduct, as currently drafted the provision could make people criminally liable for distributing images carelessly, but without intent to bully,” says Ms. Brown. 

Lawful access

The CBA submission notes that while lawful access legislation has been very controversial, the provisions of Bill C-13 are “more focused and circumscribed than previous proposals.”  With further amendments, Bill C-13 would provide a “viable version” of this legislation.

Ms. Brown will appear before the Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Tuesday, May 27 at 11:00 am ET in Room 268, 151 Sparks Street in Ottawa. 

The CBA submission is available online (PDF).

The CBA is dedicated to supporting the rule of law, improvements in the law, and the administration of justice. Some 37,500 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.