A Note on Language
In this toolkit, we will sometimes use the word woman/women and feminine pronouns for simplicity and to recognize the significant impact technology-facilitated violence has on women and girls. We recognize that TFGBV also impacts trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit people. We hope that all people impacted by TFGBV will find these documents useful.
This document is designed to assist survivors and frontline anti-violence workers to better understand the legal causes of action available in response to various forms of digital harassment, stalking, spying, and threatening behaviour, all of which are forms of technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV). It is strongly recommended that you review Legal Protections for TFGBV: What Laws Apply to You? before considering what specific legal remedies might apply to your case, as it provides a general overview of different forms of TFGBV and the key differences between the criminal and civil legal systems in Canada.
This sheet provides general legal information and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice or representation must come from a lawyer who can advise you of your legal options concerning a specific case of harassment. For a list of legal resources, see Legal and Victim Service Supports and Resources.
Perpetrators exploit digital technologies in many different ways to stalk, harass, spy on, threaten, and intimidate women. These behaviours can include:
- A perpetrator constantly contacting you through calls, text messages, messages on social media, etc.
- A perpetrator making explicit or implied threats against you or your loved ones through text messages or online
- A perpetrator posting harmful information about you on social media, a blog, or website
- A perpetrator tracking your communications and/or location by installing spyware on your phone, or placing a GPS tracker in your car
- A perpetrator restricting access to your digital devices, locking you out of your accounts, or interfering with your Smart Home devices
- A perpetrator impersonating you online by creating fake dating profiles or advertisements for sexual services, or creating fake social media accounts
The behaviours listed above are just a few examples of the types of behaviours that can fall under this category of technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
If you fear for your immediate safety, you should contact the police. You may also apply for a peace bond or, if the perpetrator is a family member such as a spouse or former spouse, for a family law protection order. These orders are intended to prevent perpetrators from engaging in future violent or criminal behaviours. For more information, see Peace Bonds and Protection Orders for Victims of TFGBV.
Potentially Applicable Criminal Laws
The Criminal Code, which contains all of the offences listed below, applies across Canada. It does not matter where in Canada you are located, as the laws set out below apply to you. For general information on the criminal system concerning technology-facilitated gender-based violence, see Legal Protections for TFGBV: What Laws Apply to You?
Criminal harassment (Criminal Code section 264)
Criminal harassment is persistently communicating with a person who does not want to be communicated with and may include stalking behaviours.
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of criminally harassing you, the Crown must prove:
- You were harassed. This has to be something more than simply being bothered or annoyed – the Crown has to show you were “tormented, troubled, worried continually or chronically plagued, bedevilled and badgered” 1;
- The perpetrator knew you were harassed or was reckless or wilfully blind as to whether you were harassed;
- The conduct caused you to fear for your safety or the safety of anyone known to you; AND
- Your fear was reasonable in all of the circumstances.
Proving criminal harassment can sometimes be difficult, as survivors’ actions in response to harassment are closely scrutinized. If you do not clearly tell the perpetrator that you do not want to receive communications from them, the court may find that the perpetrator did not know you were harassed. On the other hand, if you do respond to the perpetrator’s communications (even to tell the perpetrator to stop sending them), this could be used to prove that you were not afraid of them.
If someone is criminally harassing you, it is crucial to keep a log of these communications and begin collecting evidence as soon as possible (see Preserving and Storing Evidence of TFGBV: Best Practices). If it is safe to do so, you should also consider clearly telling the person that you do not want to receive any more communications from them and that their communications are causing you to fear for your safety. If it is safe to do so, you can then consider not responding to any further communications from them.
Criminal harassment behaviours frequently occur leading up to, shortly after, or even many years after, the breakup of an intimate partnership. There is a significant volume of case law establishing that, as long as the four requirements set out above are met, persistent digital communication with a former partner can result in a guilty verdict in criminal harassment cases. Some cases of technology-facilitated gender-based violence where a perpetrator has been convicted of criminal harassment include:
- A perpetrator sent his girlfriend e-mails, text messages, and making phone calls to her after a fight and after she asked him not to. 2
- A perpetrator sent e-mails to his ex-girlfriend's work colleagues intended to damage her reputation, arrived at her home and screamed at her, and threatened physical violence against her during a phone call. 3
- A perpetrator texted a neighbour suggesting they have an affair, entered her home and took her underwear, and then placed her underwear in her yard after she blocked his number on her phone. 4
- A perpetrator placed a GPS device on his former partner’s car, and accessed and saved an image she had uploaded to her password-protected cloud storage. 5
- A perpetrator entered his ex-girlfriend's home, changed the passwords on her phone, Apple ID, and Facebook account, sent derogatory emails and text messages to her employer, and sent the principal of her children’s school photographs of her along with allegations of misbehaviour. 6
Harassing Communications (Criminal Code section 372(3))
Harassing communications is a similar offence to criminal harassment – it involves a person repeatedly communicating with another person who does not want them to.
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of sending you harassing communications, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator used telecommunication to repeatedly communicate with you or cause communications to be made to you; AND
- The perpetrator intended to harass you.
The term “telecommunication” includes phone calls, emails, text messages, and other electronic communications.
This offence is likely easier to prove than criminal harassment, as the Crown will not be required to prove that the communications caused you to fear for your safety.
Some cases of technology-facilitated gender-based violence where a perpetrator has been convicted of criminal harassment include:
- A perpetrator “constantly” called and texted his ex-partner despite a family court order setting out when and how they were to communicate. 7
- A perpetrator makde frequent calls to his ex-partner despite her not answering the phone, used an anonymized phone number, and sent aggressive and insulting text messages. 8
Indecent Communications (Criminal Code section 372(2))
Indecent communications are unwanted sexualized communications.
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of indecently communicating with you, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator made an indecent communication to you through telecommunication; AND
- The perpetrator intended to alarm or annoy you with this communication.
The term “telecommunication” includes phone calls, emails, text messages, and other electronic communications. However, most cases where the accused is charged with indecent communications have involved telephone calls. “Indecent” communications have generally only included communications referencing sexual acts. 9
False Information (Criminal Code section 372(1))
False information is telling a person something that one knows to be false, for the purpose of harming the other person.
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of conveying false information to you, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator conveyed to you or caused to be conveyed to you false information by telecommunication or letter;
- The perpetrator knew this information was false; AND
- The perpetrator intended to injure or alarm you.
The term “telecommunication” includes phone calls, emails, text messages, and other electronic communications.
Most false information cases have involved individuals making fake 9-1-1 calls; however, there is nothing in the Code that sets out false information charges can only apply in this context. Some cases where a perpetrator has been convicted on false information charges include:
- A perpetrator informed the police she was being harassed via e-mail by numerous people with the result that these people were arrested, when in fact she had authored the emails herself. 10
- A perpetrator called a mother and falsely told her that her child was missing, causing her to go out and look for the child. 11
Defamatory Libel (Criminal Code section 298)
Defamatory libel is something false a person publishes about another person, with the intent to cause that other person harm.
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of defamatory libel against you, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator:
- Published something likely to injure your reputation by exposing you to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; OR
- Published something designed to insult you.
- The perpetrator knew what they were publishing was false.
A defamatory libel must be “published” by the perpetrator. This includes: exhibiting it in public; causing it to be read or seen; and showing or delivering it with the intent it should be read or seen by anyone (other than you). This includes posting something publicly online. Publishing does not include sending a harmful or insulting message directly to you and no one else, such as by a direct message or text message.
A case of technology-facilitated gender-based violence where a perpetrator was convicted of defamatory libel involved him posting messages under the name of a woman (who had posted negative reviews of his restaurant online) on an adult cyber-dating website along with her photo. He sent similar messages inviting sexual activity in the woman’s name to her lawyer. 12
Uttering Threats (Criminal Code section 264.1)
Uttering threats is threatening harm to another person.
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of criminally harassing you, the Crown must prove the perpetrator threatened one or more of the following:
- To cause death or bodily harm to you or any other person;
- To burn, destroy or damage property; OR
- To kill, poison, or injure a pet.
The threat can be made in any way, including through electronic communications. Some cases of technology-facilitated gender-based violence where a perpetrator has been convicted of uttering threats include:
- A perpetrator sent e-mails to his ex-girlfriend's work colleagues insulting her character, arrived at her home and screamed at her, and threatened to “rip [her] throat out” during a phone call. 13
- A perpetrator posted a video online in which he referred to shooting a person whose political views he disagreed with with a rubber-coated marble. 14
- A perpetrator stated in a Facebook message to his girlfriend that he was “coming from out west to deal with this” and she was going to “pay with [her] stupid pathetic life.” 15
- A perpetrator abducted his and his former partner’s five-year-old son and sent his former partner a text message stating that he would rather die with his children than be taken down by the police. 16
Intimidation (Criminal Code section 423)
Intimidation is attempting to get someone to do or abstain from doing something through intimidating tactics.
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of intimidating you, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator: 17
- Used violence or threats of violence against you, your intimate partner, your children, or your property;
- Threatened that violence or other injury would be done or punishment or damage inflicted on you or a relative of yours;
- Persistently followed you;
- Hid, deprived you of, or hindered your use of any property owned or used by you; OR
- Beset or watched the place where you live, work, or happen to be.
- The perpetrator did this to compel you to do or abstain from doing something.
The vast majority of intimidation case law involves individuals using physical violence to compel someone to do something. However, at least in theory, conveying threats online, hiding your electronic devices, or spying on you using surveillance technologies could fall within intimidating behaviours, if they are done to compel you to do or abstain from doing something.
Some cases of technology-facilitated gender-based violence where a perpetrator has been convicted of intimidation include:
- Sending text messages in which he threatened to contact immigration authorities to have his intimate partner deported if she did not come outside and talk to him. 18
- Sending an anonymous email to the president of a university during a labour dispute threatening an act of terrorism if the university did not capitulate to union demands. 19
Extortion (Criminal Code section 346)
Extortion is exerting pressure on another person, usually through threats, to get them to do something or abstain from doing something. When a perpetrator uses threats to convince someone to engage in sexual activity, usually online, this is often called “sextortion,” although this is not a legal term.
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of extorting you, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator induced or attempted to induce you to do something using threats, accusations, menaces, or violence AND
- The perpetrator was intending to obtain something.
You do not need to be the target of the threats, accusations, menaces, or violence for the Crown to prove extortion. For example, if the threats were made against your children, this would still count.
Many cases of technology-facilitated extortion involve individuals threatening to distribute intimate images of their partners (see Legal Remedies for Image-Based Abuse). It is also an offence for a perpetrator to publish or threaten to publish, or to offer to abstain from publishing, a defamatory libel to extort money from you.
Identity Fraud (Criminal Code section 403)
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of identity fraud in relation to you, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator fraudulently:
- Pretended to be you OR
- Used your identity information as if it pertained to them
- The perpetrator intended:
- To gain an advantage for themself or another person;
- To obtain any property or an interest in any property;
- To cause disadvantage to you or another person; OR
- To avoid arrest or prosecution or to obstruct, pervert, or defeat the course of justice.
Impersonation is a common form of technology-facilitated gender-based violence, particularly in the context of current or former intimate partnerships where a perpetrator may use their special knowledge of or access to information about their current or former partners to impersonate them.
“Identity information” is defined as any information that is commonly used alone or in combination with other information to identify or claim to identify an individual.
Despite impersonation being a common form of TFGBV, identity fraud provisions are rarely charged in relation to online impersonation. Some cases of TFGBV where perpetrators have been convicted of identity fraud include:
- A perpetrator pretended to be a person a vulnerable young woman knew of but had never met, convincing her through text messages that a second (fictional) person was in love with her, and convincing her that he would pay the fictional person’s medical bills if she had sex with him (the perpetrator) 20
- A perpetrator, who had been criminally harassing several people, impersonated a police officer and informed the people she was harassing that they had to drop their allegations against her. 21
Advertising Sexual Services (Criminal Code section 286.4)
In Canada, it is a criminal offence to advertise an offer for someone to provide sexual services for money or other benefits. It is not an offence to advertise your own sexual services. However, if a perpetrator uses your name, image, or other contact information to advertise sexual services online (a relatively common behaviour in TFGBV case law), they may be guilty of an offence under this provision.
Hate Speech (Criminal Code section 319(2))
Hate speech is making comments about a group of people intended to cause others to hate them.
For a court to find a perpetrator has committed hate speech, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator communicated statements willfully promoting hatred against any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability AND
- These communications took place somewhere other than in private conversation.
Statements promoting hatred against a group that are published online can meet this definition. The perpetrator will not be convicted of hate speech in certain circumstances, including if they can establish the statements were true, if they expressed a good faith opinion based on religion, the comments were on a topic in the public interest and they believed them to be true, or they were drawing attention to the statements to have them removed.
It is also an offence to advocate genocide against or incite hatred likely to lead to a breach of the peace against any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.
Hate speech has to be about a group of people, rather than an individual. If a person says hateful things about you, this will usually not constitute a criminal offence. However, if a person makes hateful statements online about you that specifically reference factors such as your race, gender identity, sex, or sexual orientation, and directs hatred toward you and others like you on this basis, this may meet the definition of hate speech under the Code.
Interception (Criminal Code section 184)
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of intercepting your private communications, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator intentionally intercepted a private communication AND
- The perpetrator did so using any “electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device.”
This provision does not apply if you or the person you were communicating with consented to the interception. If the perpetrator secretly records a conversation between you and them, this will not meet the criteria, as the perpetrator will have technically “consented” to the recording.
It is also an offence for a perpetrator to possess, purchase, or sell a device knowing that its primary purpose (based on its design) is to secretly intercept private communications.
Unauthorized Use of a Computer (Criminal Code section 342.1)
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of the unauthorized use of a computer, the Crown must prove:
- The perpetrator fraudulently:
- Obtained a computer service (data processing and the storage/retrieval of computer data);
- Used a device (which can include a computer program) to intercept the function of a computer system;
- Used a computer system with the intent to obtain a computer service or intercept a computer system or commit mischief; OR
- Used, possessed, trafficked in, or permitted another person to have access to a computer password that would enable them to fraudulently obtain a computer service, intercept the function of a computer system, or commit mischief.
To engage in any of the above activities, “fraudulently” means the perpetrator must have behaved dishonestly. 22 One case of TFGBV in which the perpetrators were convicted of the unauthorized use of a computer involved the perpetrators misusing databases they had access to in their roles as police officers to obtain personal information about a woman whose ex-partner was paying them to conduct surveillance on her. 23
It is also an offence for a perpetrator to make, possess, sell, offer for sale, import, obtain for use, distribute, or make available a device that is designed or adapted primarily to commit unauthorized use of a computer or mischief. The perpetrator must know the device has been used or is intended to be used to commit such an offence.
Mischief (Criminal Code section 430)
Mischief encompasses several relatively minor offences involving damaging or interfering with a person’s property.
For a court to find a perpetrator guilty of mischief, the Crown must prove the perpetrator willfully:
- Destroyed or damaged property;
- Rendered property dangerous, useless, inoperative, or ineffective;
- Obstructed, interrupted, or interfered with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property; OR
- Obstructed, interrupted, or interfered with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property.
Concerning TFGBV, this could include someone damaging your digital devices or infecting them with malware, or abusing Smart Home technology to harass or intimidate you.
The Code also specifically prohibits mischief in relation to computer data, defined as “representations...that are in a form suitable for processing in a computer system.” To be found guilty of mischief in relation to computer data (Code section 430(1.1)), the Crown must prove the perpetrator willfully:
- Destroyed or altered computer data;
- Rendered computer data meaningless, useless, or ineffective;
- Obstructed, interrupted, or interfered with the lawful use of computer data; OR
- Obstructed, interrupted or interfered with a person in the lawful use of computer data or denied access to computer data to a person who is entitled to access it.
Mischief in the context of TFGBV has included perpetrators breaking their ex-partners' electronic devices such as cell phones and computers. 24
Potentially Applicable Civil Laws
Unlike criminal law, civil law varies significantly depending on where you are located in Canada. The “causes of action” (behaviours you can sue someone for in civil court) listed below may not apply in your province or territory, may be covered by specific legislation, or may be covered only by the “common law” (meaning there is no legislation, but a cause of action exists based on previous court decisions). Many civil causes of actions relate to claims in “tort,” meaning a civil wrong. You can review Legal Protections for TFGBV: What Laws Apply to You? for more information about the civil trial system. All of the cases discussed below state what province or territory they are from – if they are not from your province or territory, you may not be able to rely on them in your case.
Defamation is any written or spoken statements about another person that are harmful to their reputation. This is a lower standard than required for criminal defamation.
To successfully sue a person for damages in relation to defamation for something they said about you, you must show:
- That the defendant’s statement(s) about you were defamatory, in the sense that they would tend to lower your reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person;
- The statement(s) actually referred to you; AND
- The statement(s) were published, meaning they were communicated to at least one person other than you.
Harmful statements about you that someone publishes online or through social media can qualify as defamation if the above criteria are met. If the defendant can show what they have said is true, was said without malice, or was simply a comment on a matter of public interest, your action may not succeed.
Some provinces and territories have specific defamation legislation. The provinces and territories with defamation legislation include:
- Yukon – Defamation act, RSY 2002, c 52
- Northwest Territories – Defamation Act, RSNWT 1988, c D-1
- Nunavut – Defamation Act, RSNWT (Nu) 1988, c D-1
- Alberta – Defamation Act, RSA 2000, c D-7
- Manitoba – The Defamation Act, CCSM c D20
- New Brunswick – Defamation Act, RSNB 2011, c 139
- Nova Scotia – Defamation Act, RSNS 1989, c 122
- P.E.I. - Defamation Act, RSPEI 1988, c D-5
- Newfoundland and Labrador – Defamation Act, RSNL 1990, c D-3
British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec do not have defamation legislation. In these jurisdictions, civil actions for defamation are governed by the common law.
It is important to note that in Quebec, a person has one year to file an action for defamation from the day on which they have learned of the defamation. Past that limitation period, the person will not be able to seek any remedies. If a person wants to file an action for defamation for an article published in a newspaper, they have 3 months do so following the publication of the article.25
Some cases where claims for defamation have been successful concerning TFGBV include:
- [BC] The defendant made numerous posts to online classifieds, Facebook, LinkedIn, and two other websites (one operated by him and one operated by another individual 26) claiming that a private investigator was not properly licensed, scammed her clients, and suffered from various mental disorders. An e-mail he sent to another person making similar claims was not considered defamatory, as it was not “published.” 27
- [NB] The defendant wrote a Facebook post referring to a “hypothetical” business partner stealing from his company, in the context of an ongoing dispute with a current business partner. The court found that even though the plaintiff was not identified by name in the post, he was sufficiently identified to give rise to a defamation claim. 28
- [BC] After being rejected by the plaintiff for an intimate relationship, the defendant engaged in a five-week campaign of Facebook posts alleging sexual impropriety and deception by the plaintiff. 29
- [ON] The defendant posted on various websites referring to a lawyer as dishonest, involved in organized crime, and having been convicted of child molestation. 30
- [BC] The defendant posted comments on numerous websites that the plaintiff had engaged in immoral and criminal conduct and was of the worst possible character. 31
- [BC] The defendant made postings on an online forum regarding the plaintiff’s divorce and calling them “a liar, a slut and a bitch” and someone who deceives others. 32
- [QC] The defendant contacted the plaintiff, who was a journalist, because he wanted her to write an article about him but she refused. He then began to follow and confront her relentlessly for years. He accused her publicly and repeatedly of being complicit in the cover-up of a sexual abuse scandal, both online and in person. 33
While a number of provinces and territories have legislation prohibiting sharing intimate images (see Legal Remedies for Image-Based Abuse), only one of these laws specifically prohibits “cyber-bullying” that does not involve the non-consensual disclosure of intimate images. If you live in Nova Scotia, the following legislation might apply:
- Nova Scotia – Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act, SNS 2017, c 7. For information from the Nova Scotia government about rights under the Act, see: What you need to know about the Intimate Images & Cyber-Protection Act.
This Act prohibits electronic communications that cause or are likely to cause harm to another person’s health or well-being, as long as the person who made them intended to cause this harm or was reckless as to whether this harm could occur. 34 A case where a claim for cyberbullying under this legislation was successful involved a defendant posting a significant number of comments and images on Facebook about his ex-wife. He was ordered to take down the communications and prohibited from communicating with the ex-wife. 35
Intimidation involves a person compelling another person to do something through threats and is a tort prohibited by the common law. If someone threatened you in online communications to get you to do something (such as continue a relationship with them), this could potentially ground a claim for intimidation.
To convince a court that someone has intimidated you, you must show:
- The defendant communicated an unlawful threat to you;
- You complied with the threat (i.e. you did what they asked);
- The defendant intended to harm you; AND
- You were harmed as a result of your compliance with the threat.
There have not been any reported cases to date in which the tort of intimidation has been successfully pursued in relation to TFGBV, but it could technically apply.
Intentional Infliction of Mental Distress/Suffering
Intentional infliction of mental distress or suffering involves a person doing something to cause another person mental suffering. Intentional infliction of mental suffering is a “common law tort,” meaning it is not prohibited by any specific written laws. Rather, courts have recognized it as an actionable wrong, meaning a person can sue another person for this behaviour.
In order to convince a court that someone has intentionally inflicted mental distress or mental suffering on you, you must show:
- The person engaged in flagrant or outrageous conduct that was calculated to produce harm AND
- The behaviour resulted in you suffering from a visible and provable illness.
The harm to you must be something more than upsetting – if the defendant’s actions led to diagnosed anxiety or depression, this could meet the necessary criteria. While medical evidence is not essential, many claims for intentional infliction of mental distress fail if there is no external (i.e. not coming from the plaintiff) evidence of the illness. 36
In Ontario, a claim for intentional infliction of mental suffering for TFGBV was successful in the case of a defendant posting harmful content online about his wife and recording and posting videos of his court-ordered access visits with their children online. 37
Privacy Legislation and Privacy Torts
If a case of technology-facilitated harassment or stalking involves an invasion of your privacy, such as a person hacking into your online accounts or sharing private information about you online, you may have a basis for a claim of invasion of privacy. There are two key ways you can bring a civil claim concerning the privacy harms stemming from these behaviours: (1) a claim under your province’s or territory’s privacy legislation or (2) through a claim in relation to the tort of invasion of privacy.
Some provinces and territories have privacy legislation that prohibits certain invasions of privacy. These generally mirror many of the common law privacy torts, which are applicable in other provinces and territories. The provinces and territories with personal privacy legislation include:
- British Columbia – Privacy Act, RSBC 1996, c 373
- Section 1 prohibits violating the privacy of another person
- Section 3 prohibits using the name or image of another for advertising property or services
- Saskatchewan – Privacy Act, RSS 1978, c P-24
- Section 2 prohibits violating the privacy of another person
- Section 3(c) prohibits exploiting the name, image, or voice of an identifiable person.
- Section 7.3 prohibits the non-consensual disclosure of intimate images
- Manitoba – The Privacy Act, CCSM, c P125.
- Section 2 prohibits violating the privacy of another person
- Section 3(c) prohibits exploiting the name, image, or voice of an identifiable person
- Newfoundland and Labrador – Privacy Act, RSNL 1990, c P-22
- Section 3 prohibits violating the privacy of another person
- Section 4(c) prohibits using the name, image, or voice of an identifiable person, or using a person’s letters, diaries, or other personal documents
- Quebec – Civil Code of Québec, CQLR c CCQ-1991
- Section 35 prohibits invading the privacy of another person without their consent or without being authorized by the law
- Section 36 lists acts that are considered invasion of privacy of a person, such as using their name, image, likeness or voice for a purpose other than the legitimate information of the public, or using their correspondence, manuscripts, or other personal documents
Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut do not have personal privacy legislation. Some of the causes of action for privacy breaches discussed below have been recognized in those jurisdictions, and others have not. You will need to check the state of the law in your jurisdiction if you are unsure.
If a person has shared sexual images or recordings of you as part of their campaign of harassment, this is a form of image-based abuse and you may have several civil privacy claims regarding this behaviour. For more information about legal remedies for image-based abuse, see Legal Remedies for Image-Based Abuse.
Some cases where perpetrators have been found liable for privacy violations for TFGBV that did not involve sharing or recording intimate images include:
- [ON] A defendant posted harmful content online regarding his ex-wife and recorded and posted videos of his court-ordered access visits with their children. 38
- [BC] A defendant used a scanner and tape recorder to record all conversations on his neighbour’s phone for over a year and shared the content of two of these calls with her employer, which resulted in his ex-wife being fired. 39
- [NS] A defendant self-published a book, available on Amazon, in which he named his ex-wife and referenced her drug addictions and suicide attempts. 40
- [BC] A defendant posted statements to an online bulletin board that his wife, who worked as an escort, carried sexually transmittable diseases. 41
- [BC] One party stalked the other party and posted details of her activities and photographs of her to an online forum. The other party published information about the first party’s job history online. Both parties were successful in suing one another for claims under B.C.’s Privacy Act. 42
Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence (TFGBV) is part of a continuum of violence that can be both online and in-person. If you or someone you know is experiencing TFGBV, you are not alone. You can use sheltersafe.ca to find a shelter/transition house near you or call/text the Kids Help Phone to discuss options and create a safety plan. You don’t need to stay in a shelter to access free, confidential services and support.
We gratefully acknowledge Moira Aikenhead and Janice Pole Sebagenzi for providing expertise to update this toolkit. An earlier draft of this document was created by Julie Gaydar, JD Candidate, Peter A. Allard School of Law, UBC, and supported by the Pro Bono Students Canada Organization. We gratefully acknowledge this work and support.
Adapted with permission from BCSTH’s Technology Safety project, based on their resource Legal Remedies for Canadian Women Experiencing Technology Facilitated Violence.
- R v Kosikar (1999), 138 CCC (3d) 217 (Ont CA)para 25.
- R v Duwyn, 2017 ONCA 367.
- R v Fenn, 2022 ABQB 67.
- R v Morrison, 2021 ONSC 1556.
- R v Harper, 2021 ONCJ 11.
- R v Braithwaite, 2020 ONCA 513.
- R v AR, 2019 ONCJ 505.
- R v Swierkot, 2019 QCCQ 7291.
- R v Kelly, 2019 NLCA 23
- R v Gerl, 2014 SKQB 292.
- R v TA, 2011 BCPC 281.
- R v Simoes, 2014 ONCA 144.
- R v Fenn, 2022 ABQB 67.
- R v Boswick, 2021 ONCJ 170.
- R v DJ, 2018 ONSC 1131.
- R v Hernandez, 2021 ONCJ 252.
- These are not all the possible methods of intimidation set out in the Code, just those that are most likely to apply in cases of technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
- R v JL, 2022 ONSC 1741.
- R v Mirsayah, 2007 BCSC 1596.
- R v Bourdon, 2016 ONSC 5707.
- R v Wowk, 2019 ABQB 959.
- R c Parent, 2012 QCCA 1653).
- R v Braile, 2018 ABQB 361.
- R v GMF, 2016 MBQB 37; R v Hurst, 2019 BCSC 307; R v Lowe,  OJ No 1162 (Sup Ct); R v ZC, 2018 ONCJ 473
-  Press Act, CQLR c P-19, section 2
- The owner of this other website was also found to be liable for the defendant’s defamatory statements, as he published them.
- Holden v Hanlon, 2019 BCSC 622.
- Hawkins v Jamieson, 2020 NBQB 83.
- Hudson v Myong, 2020 BCSC 517.
- Warman v Grosvenor (2008), 92 OR (3d) 663 (Sup Ct J).
- Griffin v Sullivan, 2008 BCSC 827.
- Lu v Shen, 2020 BCSC 490
- R. c. Edgar, 2019 QCCQ 4821
- Section 3(c)
- Candelora v Feser, 2019 NSSC 370.
- See e.g. Lu v Shen, 2020 BCSC 490 –years of flagrant and harmful comments about one another on social media were not found to meet the criteria for intentional infliction of emotional distress, as there was no external evidence of a visible and provable illness.
- Yenovkian v Gulian, 2019 ONSC 7279;
- Yenovkian v Gulian, 2019 ONSC 7279
- Watts v Klaemt, 2007 BCSC 662.
- Racki v Racki, 2021 NSSC 46.
- MSL v HRG, 2005 BCSC 488.
- Lu v Shen, 2020 BCSC 490.