Jesse Brown writes, "Boing Boing readers may remember Rehteah Parsons, the Nova Scotia teen who, in news media shorthand, was driven to suicide last April by cyber bullies. The public's understandable shock and outrage over her death, and the lack of any charges being laid against her abusers* has resulted in Nova Scotia's Bill 61: the Cyber Safety Act. But pre-existing laws could have brought Rehteah justice while she was alive- they just weren't enforced. Rehteah may have been cyber bullied, but more descriptively, she was (allegedly) gang-raped while severely intoxicated and chronically harassed. But the RCMP closed her case without interviewing the four boys accused, despite the existence of photo evidence."
*The RCMP re-opened Rehteah's case under pressure from the Prime Minister. This morning, they finally laid charges against two individuals, assumedly not under Bill 61, which of course did not exist at the time of the incident.
The cops failed to take her rape seriously, as did her school. Her father reports that the mental health institute he sent her to had her strip-searched by male attendants, despite her history of sexual abuse. In her dad's words, "she didn't die of bullying, she died of disappointment". Yet in her memory comes Bill 61, a law that makes "cyber bullying" illegal, and defines it as anything you or your kids say online that could be expected to humiliate a person or harm their self-esteem or emotional well-being. This covers most journalism, I'd guess, as well as at least 60% of everything said on Twitter or Facebook.
If you're merely accused, a judge can issue a Protection Order against you before you have a chance to defend yourself. The cops can seize your computers, you can lose Internet access, you can be gagged from mentioning your accuser online or forbidden to use the Internet entirely. There's much more- the bill encourages parents and school administrators to spy on minors, and it gives police new powers to demand your data from your ISP.
I've written in more detail about the trouble with this abusive bill here.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.