Fines, prison for non-consensual sharing of intimate images

Legislation targeting ‘revenge porn’ gets bipartisan backing

Corporations could face fines in excess of half a million dollars if they fail to take down non-consensually posted intimate images — so-called “revenge porn”.

The Enhancing Online Safety (Non-Consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Bill 2018 today received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. The legislation was passed by the Senate in February.

The bill introduces a take-down notice system that will be administered by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

The legislation bans both the non-consensual sharing of intimate images as well as threats to do so on websites and social networks as well as through services such as email or MMS.

The commissioner is able to issue a notice that requires the removal of an image within 48 hours. The government has indicated that it does not expect a formal notice to be required in every case.

There are a number of exemptions in the legislation; for example in relation to an ongoing investigation, for the purposes of court proceedings, where it is for medical or scientific reasons or where a reasonable person would consider it acceptable.

Individuals who don’t comply with a take-down notice may be slapped with a fine of up to $105,000; corporations face fines of up to $525,000.

Amendments to the Criminal Code Act 1995 could also see people who non-consensual posting of intimate images face prison sentences.

“Perpetrators could face penalties of imprisonment for up to five years where the material transmitted is private sexual material, or seven years if they transmit the material and have already had three civil penalty orders made against them,” Attorney-General Christian Porter said.

“Tell your friends, your colleagues and your family you do not have to suffer with intimate images being posted without your consent. If this happens to you I urge you to contact the world leading Office of the eSafety Commissioner who has the power to help,” said the minister for women, Kelly O’Dwyer.

“Labor welcomes the government coming to the party on the need for a specific criminal offence that sends a strong and clear message to the community that the non-consensual sharing of private sexual material is not acceptable,” said shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland. (Former attorney-general George Brandis argued that existing legislation criminalised revenge porn.)

Labor MPs have previously sought to pass a number of private members’ bills to tackle the issue.

The government last year passed legislation expanding the responsibilities of the eSafety Commissioner. Australia's online safety legislation is currently the subject of a government review.

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