It’s been nearly four months since the province’s highest court struck down the Cyber-Safety Act and it appears the government is no where near close to figuring out what to do next.
“There has been no decision made yet about what options we are going to take,” justice minister Diana Whalen said Thursday.
Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in the country to pass an Anti-Cyberbullying Law in June of 2013.
READ MORE: First-in-Canada law allows N.S. cyberbullying victims to sue, seek protection
The law came into effect following the death of Rehtaeh Parsons. The 17-year-old took her own life three years ago, following relentless bullying and an alleged sexual assault.
Rehtaeh Parsons in photo from a Facebook tribute page “Angel Rehtaeh,” set up by her mother. Angel Rehteah Facebook group
Rehtaeh Parsons in photo from a Facebook tribute page “Angel Rehtaeh,” set up by her mother.
Angel Rehteah Facebook group
READ MORE: Report finds Rehtaeh Parsons “did not receive support and assistance” required
In December, a Supreme Court judge ruled the legislation infringed on charter rights and must be eliminated.
The Nova Scotia government admits they passed the original Cyber-Safety Act in haste and don’t want to repeat the same mistake.
“It was written and passed in about three weeks. So we need to make sure what we write this time can stand a constitutional challenge,” said Whalen.
David Fraser, a privacy lawyer in Halifax, says he has never seen a piece of legislation move through government as quickly as the Cyber Safety Act.
“It was ruled unconstitutional because of the defects they built into it in the first place again by rushing it through,” Fraser said.
Despite having months to think about it, the government still won’t say if they will appeal the judge’s decision, re-write the act or create a whole new piece of legislation.
“I certainly can say we’re aware of the need for something to take the place of that act because it’s certainly left a void,” said Whalen. “There were over 800 cases that were dealt with in two years and we feel that there is a definite need.”
Of the 800 cases that the Cyber Scan Unit dealt with under the Anti-Cyberbullying Law, fewer than a dozen went to court. They say the majority of the cyberbullying complaints were between adults.
There is no timeline in place for when the government will make a decision about what to do with the law.