By Alexa Dodge

Dr. Alexa Dodge, a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University, recently released her report Deleting Digital Harm: A Review of Nova Scotia’s CyberScan Unit. Dodge shows that, in Canada, much of the government response to cyberbullying and nonconsensual intimate image distribution has focused on legal responses as a core solution (e.g. the federal Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act (2014) and various civil law remedies at the provincial level). Although new criminal and civil law options may lead some to believe that these issues are now adequately addressed, Dodge finds that legal remedies are often unappealing to many complainants and are unable to address the core issues that underly acts of cyberbullying and nonconsensual distribution.

Dodge finds that legal responses do not provide the expedient technological and emotional supports that many victims most desire and they can be counterproductive by bringing additional and extended attention to harmful content. As legal remedies are less widely used and desired than is often assumed, Dodge’s report considers what alternatives to traditional legal responses may be available. Namely, her report analyzes Nova Scotia’s CyberScan unit to explore the efficacy of their primarily informal responses to cyberbullying and nonconsensual intimate image distribution. Dodge argues that CyberScan’s successes and shortfalls offer a useful guide for considering best practices in responding to and preventing the harms of cyberbullying and nonconsensual intimate image distribution in Canada. The full report can be accessed here: