Revenge porn laws strengthened by the Senate


Thursday, 15 February, 2018


Revenge porn laws strengthened by the Senate

Laws surrounding ‘revenge porn’ will be strengthened, after legislation to stop image-based abuse passed the Senate.

The federal government’s Enhancing Online Safety (Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Bill 2018 will provide the eSafety Commissioner with the power to issue ‘removal notices’ to perpetrators, social media service providers and website and content hosts.

These notices require such images to be removed within 48 hours after the notice has been given.

Individuals may be subject to civil penalties of up to $105,000, while corporations may be subject to fines up to $525,000.

The civil penalties regime complements existing criminal laws at the Commonwealth and state and territory levels, providing victims with an option to have material removed quickly without the need for lengthy legal proceedings.

Amendments to the government’s Bill were passed by the Senate which would make changes to the Criminal Code Act 1995 to establish a specific criminal offence in relation to the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

The House of Representatives will carefully consider the Senate’s amendments and their workability.

Under Commonwealth law, it is already an offence to use a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence (section 474 of the Criminal Code). The maximum penalty for this offence is three years’ imprisonment.

Under this offence, 947 charges have been proven against 475 defendants since 2004, including a number of cases in relation to image-based abuse.

The Commonwealth has also worked with state and territory governments through the COAG Law Crime and Community Council to support a nationally consistent approach to criminal offences. A National Statement of Principles on the criminalisation of the non-consensual sharing of intimate images was published in May 2017. All states and territories have now enacted or are enacting these in their legislation.

The federal government has a strong track record for protecting victims of image-based abuse.

The government has committed $10 million to support victims of image-based abuse, including $4.8 million for the eSafety Commissioner to develop and implement a national online complaints portal for image-based abuse.

The portal allows victims to report instances of image-based abuse and access to immediate and tangible support.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/hafakot

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