The Law on Revenge Porn: Distributing Intimate Images

At the end of last year, the Federal Government introduced new laws into Parliament targeting those who share revenge porn.

“Revenge porn” is the term used to describe the unauthorised sharing of intimate images or videos. This includes the use of faked intimate images.

Research has shown that a staggering 23 per cent of those aged 16 to 45 in Australia have been subjected to image-based abuse. With the prevalence of cyber bullying and online harassment, this is an issue of public concern.

Current Laws

Current Commonwealth laws do not provide specific offences related to revenge porn. Such acts would be prosecuted under section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act which makes it an offence to use carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence. This carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.

Australian States and Territories are varied in how their laws deal with the issue of revenge porn. In NSW, laws were implemented in June 2017 that now makes it an offence to share or record intimate images or videos without consent (section 91Q of the Crimes Act).

The offence carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $11,000. Victoria, ACT and SA have similar legislation covering the distribution of intimate media, whereas, WA, QLD, NT and Tasmania do not.

Proposed Commonwealth Laws

The Enhancing Online Safety (Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Bill 2018 was passed by the Australian Senate in February and will now be introduced into the House of Representatives. The proposed laws create new offences including:

  • Using a carriage service for transmitting, publishing or distributing intimate images without consent;
  • Using a carriage service to make a threat about intimate images; and
  • Possessing, controlling, producing, supplying or obtaining an intimate image for use through a carriage service.

The first two offences carry a maximum penalty of 3 years’ imprisonment and the third carries a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment. In the case of aggravated offences, the maximum penalties would be 5 years’ and 10 years’ imprisonment, respectively.

Civil Regime

The proposed laws would also see the amendment of the civil penalty regime. Fines of up to 500 penalty units ($100,500) would be imposed on individuals who share intimate images of people without their consent.

Extra powers would be given to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to impose civil penalties, investigate complaints and issue removal notices to hosting services to have the intimate content removed.

Alignment of Penalties

The introduction of the new Federal law would see an alignment of offences and penalties across Australian states and territories. This is necessary because the online nature of revenge porn means that intimate content can be published or distributed across borders attracting the laws of different states and territories.

This will also make it easier for the eSafety Commissioner to investigate complaints, and order the speedy removal of intimate content no matter the location.

O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors

If you have been charged with a “revenge porn” offence of use carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence under the existing Commonwealth or share or record intimate images or videos without consent under the NSW legislation, speak to us about your criminal matter. We are experienced Sydney criminal lawyers and can represent you in your case. Call us on (02) 9261 4281 to book a free first consultation.

Revenge Porn Laws

Proposed Federal laws introduce new offences related to publishing and distributing intimate images and videos without consent.