Non-Consensual Possession/Distribution Intimate Images

November 5, 2017

A Removal Option After Distribution

Many Canadian adults and youth are not aware of the new section of the Criminal Code of Canada, Sec 162.1(2); the possession or distribution of intimate images, either over or under the age of 18yrs. Yes, this law applies to us adults as well!

In Canada, it is a criminal offence under section 162.1(2) of the Criminal Code to possess or distribute, any intimate image or video of another person without their consent. It must also be noted that under Canadian law if a person did voluntarily consent to provide you with an intimate image or video of themselves, that consent can be withdrawn at any time.

What surprises many adults in Canada is that the possession of an intimate image of a person under or over the age of 18, is not a criminal offence in most case, as long as that picture remains within the privacy of that intimate legal relationship. What makes it illegal, however, is if anyone takes that picture or video and show’s it, or sends it, outside of the relationship without the consent of the other person, or continues to possess the image or video if asked to delete it by the person who sent it.

One research study found that for high school students “Twenty-eight percent of the sample reported having sent a naked picture of themselves through text or e-mail (sext), and 31% reported having asked someone for a sext. More than half (57%) had been asked to send a sext, with most being bothered by having been asked” [1]. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection released a statement on May 23, 2017 claiming an 89% increase in the past two years in online sextortion cases among teenage boys [2].

Often these images can come back and harm the sender emotionally, psychologically and even physically. Unfortunately, many teens do not understand these consequences until something undesirable happens to them, or a friend, because these intimate images and videos were shared.

I have found that after our presentations on this topic, I have more than a few students, both male and female, approach me advising that they have sent an intimate image/video to another person and now, given the information that we share in our presentation, are wondering how to convince the other person to delete the intimate image or video.

My initial suggestion is to always ask the person to voluntarily delete the intimate image or video as your first step. If they refuse, and prior to bringing it to the attention of the police, I then recommend that the student consider sending the person a “Deletion Notice”. This notice is not a legal document, but clearly, outlines the Canadian Law surrounding this issue, and the criminal consequences one could face if they do not voluntarily delete the intimate image or video. This notice should be dated and time stamped and if needed, provided to police as evidence that the sender removed consent, tried to get voluntary compliance, but the person who possessed the intimate image or video still refused to do so.

If you are interested in this “Deletion Notice”, please send me an email to and I will send you a copy. This strategy may be something that every Canadian school counsellor should consider as an option in their tool bag, to help students deal with this digital challenge!

I must emphasize that this strategy is not designed to be used in cases where the intimate image or video taken, is being used to blackmail, or what is called “extortion”, or for any other criminal reason here in Canada. It is specifically designed to provide a person who sent a consensual intimate image or video and now realizes that they should not have done so, and now want it deleted. I must also emphasize, that there will be those who possess these intimate images and videos and will ignore this strategy. In these cases, the next step should be connecting with law enforcement immediately.


The White Hatter

[1] Temple JR, Paul JA, van den Berg P, Le V, McElhany A, and Temple BW, “Teen sexting and its association with sexual behaviors,” Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med., vol. 166, no. 9, pp. 828–833, Sep. 2012.

[2] “Canadian Centre for Child Protection.” [Online]. Available:

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