In December 2023, the BC legislature enacted Bill 12-2023 Intimate Images Protection Act and the accompanying Intimate Images Protection Regulations. The purpose of the Act is to enable individuals whose private images, or likeness, have been shared, published, or made available, without their consent, regain control of the images and seek redress.

The Act defines "intimate images" as:

A visual, recording, or visual, simultaneous representation of an individual, whether or not the individual is identifiable, and whether or not the image has been altered in any way, in which the individual is or is depicted as:

A. engaging in a sexual act,

B. nude, or nearly nude, or

C. exposing the individuals, genital organs, anal region, or breasts, and in relation, to which the individual had a reasonable expectation of privacy at,

D. in the case of a recording the time the recording was made, and, if distributed, the time of the distribution, and

E. in the case of simultaneous representation, the time the simultaneous representation occurred.

The Act covers still images, recording of still images, and recording of a moving image. It also covers images that are distributed through live transmission (whether recorded or not).

Importantly the Act also addresses the issue of consent. Consent by the object of the intimate image is necessary for distribution and consent can be revoked at any time.

The Act allows for individuals to seek an order to have images taken down from online platforms, and provides fines levied against an individual or site host, which fails to comply with an order to remove the images.

The process will be handled by the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) but this does not limit individuals from accessing compensation through the civil court system. The new jurisdiction is supposed to come into effect in February 2024.

The CRT is aimed at providing individuals with an easy process they can perform without the assistance of a lawyer, though parties are still entitled to have a lawyer representing them. Only time will tell how this process evolves, and what sort of protections the CRT will provide claimants without legal representation, since typically counsel performs an insulating role for litigants in the court system.

This process is an important step in recognizing the damage associated with having intimate images being distributed without consent, and aims to rectify historic pitfalls in providing redress to individuals impacted by the disclosure of their images.

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.