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NSW Has Announced it Will Criminalise Revenge Porn

Following South Australia and Victoria's lead, distributors of nonconsensual sexual images will soon face fines and jail time.

by Katherine Gillespie
05 September 2016, 12:00am


Image via Flickr user Pabak Sarkar

The NSW Government will follow Victoria and South Australia's lead and seek to criminalise "revenge porn," which is the non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit images taken during a relationship.

NSW Attorney General Gabrielle Upton made the announcement Monday morning, explaining in a media statement that "distributing intimate images without consent often involves ex-partners seeking revenge and is particularly troubling in domestic violence situations, where a victim may be forced to participate in the production of explicit images."

"'These images can have a devastating emotional and social effect on the person pictured and can be used as a way to deliberately humiliate, control or harass the intended victim," Upton said.

This follows an outcry two weeks earlier when an online pornography ring targeted thousands of Australian high school-aged girls by publishing their nude images on a dedicated website without consent.

The site, which began operating in December last year, contained over 2,000 images sourced from more than 70 different Australian high schools. The images, which were called "wins" by the site's users, were sorted by high school location.

Upton linked the introduction of the laws to concerns about smartphones making distribution of nonconsensual sexual images much easier—and harder to detect.

"The use of mobile phones as recording devices has made it easier for people to share intimate images without consent on social media or websites, causing great distress for victims, and we need strong laws to protect them," she said.

In order to create the new laws, the NSW government will conduct consultation to come up with a definition for "intimate" images, how they are shared or distributed, and what penalties should apply—including how the offence should apply to children and young people. It's important to note that the online pornography ring that targeted schoolgirls was run by their young male peers.

Lawmakers will also have to identify the types of penalties to put in place for "revenge porn" offences. In Victoria the offence carries a penalty of up to two years in prison, while in South Australia the maximum penalty is $10,000 or a two year sentence.

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