Bill would reduce sexual exploitation online

17 May 2024

Imagine being the parents of a 13-year-old girl who is pressured to send the boy she likes an intimate video of herself. Imagine she discovers the video has been uploaded to pornography sites and viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Imagine she drops out of school and her social circle, becoming fearful, anxious, thinking about ending her life.

This isn’t just imagination. The girl’s name is Serena Fleites, and she is just one of many. There are real people in vulnerable moments who are facing devastating impacts from having their intimate images shared online.

Children and youth face lifelong consequences when their intimate images are shared without consent, or images of their abuse and exploitation are streamed and distributed.

Bill C-270, a private member’s bill by MP Arnold Viersen, seeks to protect Canadians from this harm before it occurs. The Stopping Internet Sexual Exploitation Act would require platforms to verify both the age and consent of every person depicted in sexually explicit material before it is posted online.

This bill is moving through the House of Commons and just passed the second of three votes unanimously on May 8, 2024. Bill C-270 will next be studied by a parliamentary committee, before returning to the House of Commons for a final vote. It will then go through the same steps in the Senate.

Lianna McDonald of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection told a parliamentary committee in a 2021 study on Pornhub that the centre was hearing from a “tsunami” of victims coming to organizations like theirs for help to get their images taken down.

Victims are powerless to control what happens to their images. A report by Canada’s office of the privacy commissioner in February told of a professional take-down service that found 700 copies of one person’s intimate images on more than 80 websites. The report noted the devastating effects on employment, social network and mental health.

In 2022 there were 896 police-reported cases of non-consensual distribution of intimate images in Canada. “These statistics are likely just the tip of the iceberg,” says Julia Beazley, EFC Director of Public Policy. “These are the images that have been discovered and reported to police. How many Canadian women and teens don’t yet know their images have been posted without their knowledge or consent, or who to approach for help if they do?”

Commercial pornography sites must be held responsible to ensure exploitative and non-consensual images are not uploaded in the first place. The onus must not be on victims to monitor pornography sites and look for their images, or wait for someone to tell them the devastating news that their images are circulating online and then have to fight to have them taken down.

Bill C-270 acts preventatively to stop illegal content from being uploaded in the first place. This is essential, as once the images or video are uploaded, it’s nearly impossible to have them taken down for good.

The EFC is strongly supportive of Bill C-270 and will make a submission in support of the legislation to the parliamentary committee. Letters of support to local MPs could increase the chances of the bill passing. See a sample letter and more information at