This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 21 July, 2019
Advertisement

Ireland set to make revenge porn and 'upskirting' illegal under new legislation

It will also be an offence to send obscene messages using any form of online communications.

The government agreed to stop working on its own Bill and instead accept Brendan Howlin’s Bill.
The government agreed to stop working on its own Bill and instead accept Brendan Howlin’s Bill.
Image: Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem

REVENGE PORN IS to be outlawed under amendments to new legislation to be approved by Cabinet today.

The changes will also provide for a separate offence to deal with another image based offence, ‘upskirting’.

The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill, which provides for a six-month prison sentence upon conviction, was originally put forward by the Labour Party in 2017.

The Bill is based on a Law Reform Commission report, which recommends the outlawing of two kinds of incidents: one which forbids the posting online of intimate images without consent, the other which will prevent secretly filming or photographing private areas of a person, also known as ‘upskirting’ and ‘down-blousing’.

Today, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will seek government approval to draft, on a priority basis, amendments to the Bill. 

Revenge porn

Ireland is behind the times when it comes to dealing with the issue of ‘revenge porn’, according to Labour leader Brendan Howlin, who sponsored the Bill.

The minister’s officials have been working with Howlin and the Attorney General to agree proposed amendments to the Bill.

Howlin has previously said one of the aspects of modern life is the increase in instances in which private images taken while in an intimate relationship are posted online when a relationship breaks down.

“They use images gathered during that relationship to harm their former partner by posting intimate, lewd images that were meant for an intimate couple online. It is totally unacceptable,” he said, adding that Ireland is behind other countries like the UK, Australia, New Zealand which have enacted such laws. 

The Department of Justice and Equality had begun preliminary work on its own legislation in this area, following a report in 2016 by the Law Reform Commission on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety.

Government halted its own work

However, the government agreed to stop working on its own Bill and instead, accept Howlin’s Bill which is based on the LRC’s recommendations.

The Bill provides for the main criminal law elements of the LRC Report and proposes new offences dealing with:

  • Non-consensual distribution of intimate images with intent to cause harm or distress (more commonly known as revenge pornography)
  • The taking and distribution of intimate images without consent, whether or not there is intent to cause harm or distress

The move comes just a few months after gardaí were informed by at least two women that their intimate photographs have been posted online without their consent. 

The forum on the popular website Reddit which showed nude and clothed images of Irish women shared without their consent was later shut down

Harassment online

The offence of harassment will include all forms of communication including through online or digital communications or communications about another person.

This seeks to modernise existing laws to cover modern technology and social media and aims to bring existing regulation up to date by broadening the legal definition of communication, to include all electronic, written and spoken word, including for example, an iMessage, Whatsapp or Facebook message, and a tweet or social media post.

The Bill also provides for the expansion of the existing offence of sending threatening or indecent messages to apply to all threatening, false indecent and obscene messages using any form of online communications.

A specific offence of stalking (stalking-type behaviour is currently prosecuted under the offence of harassment contained in section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997) will also be provided for under the new legislation. 

If the proposals are approved by Cabinet today, the Office of Parliamentary Counsel will begin drafting the government amendments to the Bill on a priority basis so that it can advance to Committee Stage in the Dáil as soon as possible.

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

Read next:

COMMENTS (22)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel