Warnings law may be too weak on revenge porn

 

A post-graduate researcher warns revenge porn offenders could be slipping through through the cracks.

Tess Upperton, who wrote her honours dissertation on criminalising revenge porn, is calling for new legislation to specifically target the increasing problem.

Revenge porn is the common term for the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, which currently falls under the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

Charges and convictions under the Harmful Digital Communications Act have more than doubled each year since it was introduced in July 2015.

Netsafe CEO Martin Cocker, the Approved Agency for the Act, said it was reasonable to expect revenge porn court cases to continue increasing.

Ms Upperton said there’s been “a bit of complacency” since the Harmful Digital Communications Act was passed in 2015.

“The law here might start looking a little bit dated and not quite up to scratch in terms of how we view and treat victims.”

Ms Upperton said the wording of the Act means offenders could slip through the cracks, as the victim must prove the offender intended to cause harm to a high standard.

The United Kingdom and parts of the United States have introduced specific revenge porn legislation, with a lower threshold where if a reasonable person thought the image was harmful then the offender would be liable.

Ms Upperton said a specific offence under our Crimes Act with a ‘reasonable person’ threshold would deter future offenders, provide victims with a clear path for reporting it and mean specific information such as reporting rates could be collected.

A specific law would also help change social attitudes of the viewing and sharing of revenge porn not being seen as a big deal, she said.

“I noticed a lot of rhetoric around arguments that you shouldn’t be making this sort of content in the first place; that if you create content consensually, you’re consenting to its distribution.”

Mr Cocker said Netsafe have thought about the need for revenge porn to have separate legislation under the Crimes Act, however its current position was not that there needs to be a specialist law.

“At this stage I think it is reasonably well covered by the existing legislation,” Mr Cocker said.

The Harmful Digital Communications Act saw an overall total of 108 charges last year, 50 in 2016 and just three in 2015.

Minister for Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Clare Curran announced on Friday that the Act will be up for its first review in November.

Newshub.

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