The following definitions can help teachers and other users, such as community police officers to identify and understand the following elements within the game: cyberbullying, cybercrime and software piracy.
Cyberbullying involves the use of technology (such as social networking websites and applications, text messaging, instant messaging, smart phones, webcams, YouTube, chat rooms and email) to hurt or intimidate others, their reputation or their relationships. Research suggests that cyberbullying is the most significant danger young people face online.
Examples of cyberbullying include but are not limited to: sending hurtful messaging, creating mean and hurtful web pages or blog sites, and posting rude, embarrassing, private and intimate, or demeaning digitally manipulated photographs or videos about someone to a public space.
Cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying in that it does not happen in face-to-face interactions. This means that an individual may have fewer inhibitions as a result of not having to face the other person or the bully may even remain anonymous, which further limits the consequences of this negative behaviour. In cyberbullying, the person bullying does not necessarily have to be the older, stronger, bigger, more popular student (although sometimes these dynamics are still in place), but rather any student could adopt the power of a ‘bully’ persona. Finally, cyberbullying occurs in a ‘public domain’, which means that negative text or images can be seen and shared extensively and repeatedly and can be difficult for the victim to dispose of completely or permanently. Cyberbullying can take place both at school and at home, at anytime of day or night, so for a victimized child there is often no escape.
Cyberbullying and the Law
Some forms of cyberbullying are considered criminal acts.
For instance, the following crimes could be applied to online communications:
- Criminal harassment: Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is a crime to communicate repeatedly to someone if your communication causes them to fear for their own safety or the safety of someone known to them;
- Harassing communication: to repeatedly communicate with someone with the intent to harass them;
- Indecent communication: to send an indecent communication with intent to alarm or annoy a person;
- Uttering threats: threatening someone with death, bodily harm, destruction of their property, or harm to a pet is also a crime;
- Defamatory libel: It is also a crime to publish a “defamatory libel” publishing writing something about someone that is designed to insult the person or is likely hurt that person’s reputation by exposing him/her to hatred, contempt or ridicule. If the content of the publication is false, the penalty is higher;
- Non-consensual distribution of intimate images: Under Bill C-13, it is now illegal to distribute intimate images of a person without their consent, regardless of the age of the person in the picture;
- Child pornography: Sexual or nude images of people under 18 qualify as child pornography, and not only cannot be legally distributed but also are illegal to make, possess or access.
- Willful promotion of hatred: encouraging others to hate people in an identifiable group (by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability). There are also civil causes of action that can apply to some cyberbullying behavior, such as defamation and publication of private facts.
“Cybercrime is generally defined as a criminal offence involving a computer as the object of the crime (hacking, phishing, spamming), or as the tool used to commit a material component of the offence (child pornography, hate crimes, computer fraud). Criminals can also use computers for communication and document or data storage.”1
Software piracy is defined as the unauthorized distribution or reproduction of software for business or personal use. The purchaser of software is the licensed user (not the owner of the software) and has the right to use the software on a specified number of computers, but not to put copies on other computers or to pass that software on to others. Whether software piracy is deliberate or not, it is illegal and punishable by law.
Software Piracy and the Law
Under the Criminal Code of Canada2 it is illegal to copy or use software in any manner other than what is permitted by copyright law or authorized by the owner in the software licensing agreement. Individuals caught with illegal software can be fined and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and they may be liable under both civil and criminal law. Forty-six percent of Canadian students aged 12-18 agreed with the statement “Downloading music, TV shows, or movies illegally in not a big deal.”3 In this survey4 MediaSmarts found that agreement rises from 26% in grade 6 to 72% in grade 11.
Non-Consensual Sharing of Intimate Images
Non-consensual sharing of intimate images is defined in the Provincial Model for a Local Police/School Board Protocol5 as knowingly publishing, distributing, transmitting, selling, making available, or advertising an intimate image of another person while knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give their consent, or being reckless as to whether the person gave their consent. The term “intimate image” refers to a visual recording such as a photograph, film, or video recording of a person in which the person is nude or engaged in explicit sexual activity and which was created in circumstances that gave rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy.
1Government of Canada (2016), Global Affairs Canada, Cybercrime. Retrieved from http://www.international.gc.ca/crime/cyber_crime-criminalite.aspx?menu_id=26&menu=R&view=d&lang=eng
3,4MediaSmarts. (2014). Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Experts or Amateurs? Gauging Young Canadians’ Digital Literacy Skills. Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/ycww/experts-or-amateurs-gauging-young-canadians-digital-literacy-skills
5Ontario Government (2015). Provincial Model for a Local Police/School Board Protocol. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/brochure/protocol/locprote.pdf