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7 February 20243 minute read

BC Intimate Images Protection Act comes into effect

The Intimate Images Protection Act came into effect on January 29, 2024, and applies retroactively to March 6, 2023. The legislation responds to growing problems of non-consensual distribution of intimate images by creating new civil rights and remedies. As set out in our earlier article, “intimate images” under the legislation include pictures, videos, livestreams, whether or not the individual is identifiable and whether or not the image has been altered in any way (thus including digitally altered images and even deepfakes):

  • in which an individual is, or is depicted as, engaged in a sexual act, is nude or nearly nude, or exposing certain defined intimate body parts, and
  • in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time of recording or distribution, or the time of simultaneous representation.

The legislation creates an expedited process under which a person whose intimate images have been distributed without consent, or who has received threats of distribution, to quickly seek orders to stop and prevent the spread of those images. An individual can revoke a consent to distribution at any time.

Applications can be made to the online Civil Resolution Tribunal, which can direct orders at the wrongdoer or an internet intermediary to remove the intimate image, delete or destroy all copies of the intimate image in the person’s possession or control, and have the image de-indexed from any search engine. These applications can be made without notice, and without naming a respondent. The Civil Resolution Tribunal may also order damages, including compensatory, aggravated and punitive damages.

The accompanying Intimate Images Protection Regulation sets the administrative penalties in the case of an individual, to a maximum of $500 per day that the individual fails to comply with the order and in the case of an internet intermediary, a maximum of $5,000 per day that the internet intermediary fails to comply with the order, up to a total maximum of $100,000 in both instances.

The legislation allows minors over 14 years of age to apply to the Civil Resolution Tribunal on their own behalf and minors over 12 years of age to authorize another individual to apply to the Civil Resolution Tribunal on their behalf. Protection under the legislation also extends to deceased individuals.

British Columbia also launched Intimate Images Protection Services, which offers emotional support, general information, and referrals. The program assists with applications to the Civil Resolution Tribunal and communicating protection orders issued by the Civil Resolution Tribunal. 

On May 3, 2023, the B.C .government notified technology companies of their responsibilities under the new legislation to take reasonable steps to address non-consensual distribution of intimate images in the use of its services. The Act applies to “internet intermediaries”, which are broadly defined as an organization that hosts or indexes third party content through an online platform. This definition could capture social media websites, video sharing platforms, online games or games platforms, online forums, and search engine platforms.

We encourage internet intermediaries operating in British Columbia to review their obligations under the new legislation to ensure compliance.