POLITICS

People Sharing 'Revenge Porn' Could Be Charged And Jailed In NSW

A jail term on the way, but there is a limit to what the state can do.

05/09/2016 10:03 AM AEST | Updated 05/09/2016 3:41 PM AEST
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CANBERRA -- Ahead of any federal moves to outlaw "revenge porn" -- and soon after the discovery of an Australian school girl porn shaming website -- the New South Wales Government has announced it will seek to criminalise the creation and distribution of sexually explicit images without consent.

Legislation is yet to be drawn up and penalties are yet to be decided, but New South Wales Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton has told The Huffington Post Australia the proposed new laws will involve a jail term.

However, with many sites hosted overseas, Ms Upton has admitted there are limits to what the state can do.

Said to affect one in 10 Australians, revenge porn offenders -- both in ongoing or broken relationships -- share intimate images on websites and social media to intimidate or humiliate the other party.

GF Revenge
NSW is to make it an offence to create and distribute sexually explicit images without consent

"Make no mistake this will be an offence that we will bring into the parliament next year to be debated," Gabrielle Upton told HuffPost Australia.

If enacted, New South Wales will be third state to criminalise revenge porn after Victoria and South Australia. The offence in Victoria carries a two year jail sentence, while in South Australia the maximum penalty is $10,000 or two years in jail.

"I think we need to send a strong community signal that this kind of behaviour is criminal," she said.

"So exactly where that lies. It may be the same it may be different. It may be more. I think it is appropriate to have a tough penalty on this because it really breaches trust."

The New South Wales move comes after an overseas hosted porn-sharing site was shut down -- briefly -- after it exposed hundreds, possibly thousands, of Australian school girls from more than 70 schools.

Some of the posts were made by former boyfriends and there is a "hunting" aspect to the site, with male users urged to find the girls.

"This is the kind of case that we had in mind in deciding that we need to have a criminal offence which addresses this particular victimisation of people," the Attorney-General told HuffPost Australia.

"Where they share an internet image, trusting somebody, that then image becomes something that's published much broader. It becomes a public image. Something they never anticipated."

But Ms Upton admits it will be harder to act when the website is hosted overseas.

"There are those complicated features to social media and the sharing of images. Websites and chatrooms can be hosted overseas and therefore there are limits to what each state can do," she said.

"But if for example that site, that chatroom, is actually hosted in NSW. There may be a remedy that would be available to the victims concerned."

"Each state has to play its part in this."

Labor MPs Terri Butler and Tim Watts are behind a federal move to criminalise revenge porn. They have introduced a private members bill to amend the criminal code and create a maximum five year jail term for revenge porn offenders.

Butler says Australia needs consistent national legislation so offenders can't hide in various jurisdictions.

"Look it is important to be in a position to target the conduct where it occurs," she said.

Andrew Meares, Fairfax
Labor MP Terri Butler says nationally consistent revenge porn laws are needed

"The egregious conduct is the conduct of people who post these images or threaten to post these images or people who make money from running the sorts of websites where actually people generate advertising revenue and traffic by hosting this sort of material."

"We think that a national law will be the best way to arm police with as much power as possible in relation to this sort of conduct so that there is less pressure in relation to which jurisdiction the images are being posted in."

During the election, the Turnbull Government committed $10 million to support victims of revenge porn and domestic violence, including the setting up of an online complaints website.

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