Thursday, 16 August 2018

 New laws to prevent image-based abuse one step closer

Media release

The Hon Christian Porter MP
Attorney-General

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
Minister for Communications

The Hon Kelly O'Dwyer MP
Minister for Women

New laws to protect against technology-facilitated abuse are one step closer after the Turnbull Government's Enhancing Online Safety (Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Bill 2018 passed the House of Representatives today.

Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield said the legislation sends a strong message to the community that the sharing of intimate images without consent is not an acceptable practice.

"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 legislation complements the online complaints portal pilot launched by the eSafety Office in October last year. It gives 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 may be subject to 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, reflecting 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 Attorney-General said. 

Minister for Women, Kelly O'Dwyer, said implementing stronger laws to prevent and support victims of image-based abuse was part of a suite of initiatives the Turnbull Government has delivered to help keep Australians safe online, provide access to immediate support and redress, and prosecute perpetrators.

"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," Minister O'Dwyer said.

The Government has committed $4 million over four years in the 2018-19 Budget to support the eSafety Office to implement the civil penalty regime.

For more information on how to report non-consensual sharing of intimate images visit the Image-based abuse website.