The Foundation for Legal Research has awarded Associate Professor Benjamin Perrin one of its major public law grants for a new research project called “Social Media & Criminal Law: Sexual Offences, Threats and Criminal Harassment” for $7,500. This funding is in addition to a $15,000 grant awarded by the Canadian Bar Association Law for the Future Fund in January for the Social Media Crime project.
Professor Perrin has recently been providing commentary in the media, including the CBC and Vancouver Sun, related to the challenges of investigating and prosecuting online sexual exploitation, the Amanda Todd case, and the problems of online vigilantism.
“Canada is a digital nation with over 20 million people active on social media,” said Professor Perrin. “It is not surprising that criminal activity is occurring in these global digital communities.”
This project will investigate how criminal law and the criminal justice system are responding to crime committed on, or facilitated by, social media networks. It will focus on three serious categories of criminality using social media that preliminary research has identified: (1) sexual offences; (2) threats/criminal harassment; and (3) terrorism-related offences.
Professor Perrin is an internationally recognized criminal law scholar. His publications include Victim Law: The Law of Victims of Crime in Canada (Thomson Reuters, 2017) and Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking (Penguin, 2011), which was named one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail. He is a Munk Senior Fellow in Criminal Justice at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy and was Special Advisor, Legal Affairs & Policy in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Professor Perrin will be collaborating with two social media experts for this project: Dr. Alfred Hermida, Director & Associate Professor, UBC Graduate School of Journalism and Dr. Patrick McCurdy, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Ottawa.