Manitoba takes the lead on revenge porn

Mike's Musings

Manitobans, under new legislation introduced Jan. 18, will be able to sue someone in civil court if they share – or even threaten to share – “intimate images.”

The Intimate Image Protection Act applies to a victim who can be identified in a photo or video while nude or engaged in a sexual act that was taken with the expectation of privacy.It’s well past due.

Until recently, I was of the opinion that if you don’t want naked pictures of yourself to be out in the world, don’t be naked in pictures. But the world isn’t black and white, and neither are solutions to problems like this.

People make mistakes. People make decisions they later regret. These are simple truths, and when that mistake or regret is simply posing for a photo for the enjoyment of one’s sexual partner, that  decision shouldn’t be one that affects someone’s emotional well-being for the rest of their life.

What they did wasn’t wrong, and they shouldn’t be punished for doing it by being humiliated.

“So why can’t they just make it illegal?” you ask. “Why does it need to be a civil matter?”

Well, I’m glad you asked.

You see, in Canada, as is the case in most countries, the owner of an image is the person who produced it, not the subject of it. If you give me permission to take a photo of you, that image belongs to me. I can do whatever I want with it. Because it’s mine. And you can’t simply change that system.

Think about it. If the subject of a photograph held the ownership of said photograph, journalists wouldn’t be able to publish photos of police officers, or politicians, or even convicted criminals, without acquiring permission first.

The complications would inevitably increase. Would the owner of the subject of a photo then be the owner of the image itself, as well? Would the Canadian government own the rights to every photo of our wilderness?

In any case, the way it’s set up – and the way it needs to be set up – the one who produces an image is the owner of said image. And you can’t make it a criminal offence to distribute something that belongs to the person distributing it.

That’s why I like the new system that Manitoba has come up with.

Importantly, the province is also investing money into the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, who operate Cybertip.ca, who will assist those who have been affected by the sharing of these types of images, particularly in the removal of them from the Internet (no small task, because once an image is out there, it’s way out there).

I think this Act would be a good benchmark to follow for the rest of Canada, along with additional resources devoted to helping with the mental and emotional stress of victims.

Someone who shares what are supposed to be private photos or video with the world without the permission of everyone in said photos or video is a terrible person, and there needs to be repercussions for being a terrible person.

Manitoba has made it so there are, and the rest of Canada should do the same.