In today’s connected world, a student’s social life occurs as much on the on the internet than off of it. As described on CyberBullying.org, “the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others,” and it has become a very big problem.
In fact, in Nova Scotia there have been at least two teenage suicides due to cyberbullying in the last two years.
As social media becomes more and more a part of our lives, so to increases the forums for cyberbullying. However, a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling may just change the playing field. On thursday, the SCC ruled in favour of a teenage girl from Halifax, victimized on Facebook, allowing her identity to remain anonymous; a significant ruling in the protection of child privacy rights.
According to The Legal Examiner, a fake Facebook account was set-up as the victim, in which malicious posts were made. In an effort to bring a defamation lawsuit against the bully, the victim and her parents requested that Eastlink, the Internet Service Provider, provide the bully’s identity, as Facebook had taken down the profile and offered the bully’s IP address. The family also requested that their identities be kept anonymous, and the Judge consented.
The Halifax Chronicle Herald and Global Television opposed the ruling, and the case eventually made its way to the SCC. Of the decision, Justice Abella wrote, “If we value the right of children to protect themselves from bullying, cyber or otherwise, if common sense and the evidence persuade us that young victims of sexualized bullying are particularly vulnerable to the harms of revictimization upon publication, and if we accept that the right to protection will disappear for most children without the further protection of anonymity, we are compellingly drawn in this case to allowing [the victim]’s anonymous legal pursuit of the identity of her cyberbully.”