Bill 37, the Child Pornography Reporting Act, 2008,
received Royal Assent on December 10th, 2008. The Bill places
potentially onerous reporting obligations on employers.
The new legislation will add a definition of "child
pornography" to Ontario's Child and Family Service
Act ("the Act"). The definition is parallel
(though not identical) to the definition found in the Criminal
Code. While the Act already requires certain persons
who come across this type of pornography to report it to the
prescribed authorities, Bill 37 amends the Act to place
strict reporting obligations on anyone who has reasonable
grounds to suspect that a representation or other material is or
might be child pornography.
Failure to report information on child pornography is an
offence, and a conviction will lead to a fine of up to $50,000
and/or imprisonment for not more than two years. In order to
encourage reporting and to safeguard those who are obliged to
report suspected child pornography, the amendments to the
Act provide that an action cannot be brought against a
person who, in good faith, provides information to the authorities.
The Act also makes it an offence to disclose the identity
of, or retaliate against, an informant.
Bill 37 will therefore have a significant impact on employers,
and especially those whose employees use computers with Internet
access. Employers will be responsible for reporting any child
pornography they may come across, as well as instructing employees
on how to report any suspected child pornography that they may
encounter in the course of their employment. However, there is no
obligation for the employer or its employees to actively seek out
While the date on which Bill 37 comes into force has yet to be
determined, it will likely become effective in the near future.
Employers should therefore familiarize themselves and their
employees with the new child pornography reporting provisions of
the Act by creating a comprehensive workplace policy which
deals with these obligations. The policy should also address the
actions that the employer may take in the event that child
pornography is found on an employee's computer. Taking action
now will ensure that employers are compliant with the new reporting
obligations whenever they come into effect.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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