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Can you sue over shared nude photos?

By October 23, 2023Family law, Litigation
The distribution of nude photos, legally known as intimate images, without consent is a distressing and violating experience. If you’re currently facing this situation, it’s only natural to feel betrayed, devastated, and uncertain about what steps to take to protect your privacy. So, can you sue for the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images in Canada? The clear and comforting answer is, absolutely, yes.

Consent Is Key

In the context of privacy laws, consent is paramount. Everyone has a right to control how, when, and where their personal information, including intimate images, is shared. Spreading intimate images without consent is not only ethically reprehensible, it’s also illegal in Canada. This form of so-called ‘revenge porn’ can have severe emotional, psychological, and social impacts on victims.

The Criminal Part

In 2014, Canada enacted Bill C-13, otherwise known as the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. This bill criminalized the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Punishable under the Canadian Criminal Code, individuals found guilty could face up to five years in prison.
While criminal charges can give a sense of justice to victims, they may not address the emotional damage and personal trauma inflicted by such violations. Here is where the Canadian civil law can step in, allowing victims to seek damages—both compensatory and punitive—to help mitigate the aftermath of the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images. The Government’s page on it can be found here.

Constructing a Civil Case

In the civil context, the tort of ‘Intrusion Upon Seclusion,’ confirmed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Jones v. Tsige (2012), plays a critical role. Although this case didn’t involve intimate images, it set a precedent by recognizing the claim for damages under instances of invasion of privacy. More recently, the Ontario Superior Court extended this tort to create a new one: ‘Public Disclosure of Embarrassing Private Facts.’ In Doe 464533 v. N.D. (2016), the claimant sought and was initially awarded damages in total of $141,708.03 after a default judgment for the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images, when the defendant refused to participate in the Court process (the default judgment was subsequently set aside after a motion by the defendant). Manitoba has passed specific legislation called The Intimate Image Protection Act that lays out specifically some of the supports available to people who have had their intimate images shared. It also sets out how those people can sue the ones who distributed them.
You don’t need to prove that there was any damage and it’s important to remember that you do not lose the right to sue just because you consented to the images being made at the time. 

Seeking Legal Help

If you find yourself in this heartrending situation, please know that you’re not alone. The emotional toll from these events can be overwhelming, and having an advocate to lean on during this time can be incredibly comforting. Most importantly, they will help ensure the legal process serves your best interest.Remember, laws are there to protect you. With your lawyer’s help, you can fight for your right to privacy, seek the justice you deserve, and take important steps toward healing.

Final Thoughts

In the face of such intimate violation, you might feel vulnerable and powerless. But rest assured, Canadian and Manitoba laws give you the right to fight back against the nonconsensual distribution of private images. This issue, and the harm it brings, is taken very seriously. With the right legal guidance, you can bring this to the court, seeking compensation for your suffering and, more importantly, reclaiming your sense of control and dignity.In closing, please remember two important facts – you are not alone, and you are not powerless. You have the law on your side, and we are here and willing to help you find your way through this challenging time.