Friday, 17 August 2018 09:13

Federal bill against revenge porn clears House

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Federal bill against revenge porn clears House Pixabay

Australian Government legislation to combat the practice of revenge porn has passed the House of Representatives on Thursday. The bill was passed by the Senate in February.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said in a statement that the law would send a message that sharing of intimate images without consent was not acceptable.

“The Turnbull Government is acting to combat this violation of a person’s freedom and dignity,” he said. “The new laws will actively discourage potential offenders through both civil and criminal penalties which complement existing state and territory laws.”

The law was first introduced to Parliament via a private members' bill by the Australian Labor Party in October 2015.

It is meant to complement the online complaints portal pilot which was launched by the eSafety Office in October 2017.

The legislation will give the eSafety Commissioner additional powers to combat image-based abuse, including revenge porn, by issuing ‘removal notices’ to websites, content hosts and social media providers.

Individuals will face civil penalties of up to $105,000 and corporations up to $525,000 if they do not comply with a request from the eSafety Commissioner to remove an intimate image.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said amendments to the Criminal Code Act 1995 imposed serious penalties for offenders, in keeping with the seriousness of the offence.

“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,” the Porter said.

Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland pointed out that her party had taken a policy to criminalise image-based abuse to the 2016 Federal Election, undertaking to do so within the first 100 days of being elected.

"In October 2016, Labor reintroduced its Private Members’ Bill into the current Parliament but it lapsed in 2017 because the government refused to call it on for debate," she said. "In June 2017, Labor moved a second reading amendment calling on the Turnbull Government to criminalise the sharing of intimate images without consent."

Rowland said a number of Labor MPs had prosecuted the issue over the years, in particular: Terri Butler Tim Watts, Clare O’Neil and Mark Dreyfus.

The government has allotted $4 million over four years to pay for the eSafety Office to implement the civil penalty regime.

Advice on how to report revenge porn is here.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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