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Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images

Under The Privacy Act individuals can sue for compensation and other remedies when they have been the victim of the unauthorized sharing of intimate images.

Intimate images include things like photos or videos where an individual is nude, partially nude, or engaged in explicit sexual activity. At the time of the photograph or recording, the individual depicted must have had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Individuals can consent to the images being recorded or agree to share or exchange existing images without losing their expectation of privacy. In other words, an individual can agree to have their image recorded or to share an intimate image with someone else with the intention that it remain private between the parties. Sharing intimate images beyond these circumstances is a violation of the Act.

The Act provides remedies to address the potentially devastating impact of this type of abusive behaviour.

Non consensual distribution of intimate images can have enduring and detrimental effects on its victims both on and offline. Harm can flow not only from the non-consensual distribution itself but also from the knowledge that this offence may never, in effect, end. Harms resulting from non-consensual distribution of intimate images range from humiliation, public shaming, and loss of confidence to unemployment, depression, forced identity changes and potentially suicide.

(2021) "Clearing Your History: A Review of Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images in Canada and Future Responses," UBC Law Review: Vol. 54: Iss. 3, Article 5.

Remedies include...

  • damages (general, special, aggravated and punitive)
  • injunctions (prohibiting further distribution)
  • recovery of any profits the defendant received as a result of the distribution of an intimate image

Civil suits can be in addition to criminal charges or used as an alternative to criminal charges. In civil cases, it is up to the individual who shared the intimate images to prove that they had consent to do so.

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