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Friday 23 August 2019

Government set to fast-track law on 'revenge porn' and 'up-skirting'

  

Private bill: Labour leader Brendan Howlin made the proposals. Picture: Collins
Private bill: Labour leader Brendan Howlin made the proposals. Picture: Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Government is set to fast-track a new law to punish people responsible for posting "revenge porn" online.

Proposed new offences that are expected to be considered by Cabinet today also include the taking and distributing of intimate images without consent, online harassment and so-called "up-skirting".

It comes after Labour leader Brendan Howlin put forward a private members bill on revenge porn that would see those convicted face a €5,000 fine, six months in prison or both.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan is set to see approval from ministerial colleagues to prioritise the drafting of legislation based on Mr Howlin's proposals when the Cabinet meets in Cork today. Department officials have been working with Mr Howlin and the Attorney General on amendments to the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017.

The Government had been working on its own legislation in the area but agreed to accept Mr Howlin's bill which incorporates elements of a Law Reform Commission report.

Proposed new offences include the non-consensual distribution of intimate images with intent to cause harm - commonly known as revenge porn - and harassment across all forms of communication including online. The bill also includes a specific offence of stalking and an expansion of the existing offence of sending threatening or indecent messages to apply to all forms of online communications.

It's understood Government amendments will make significant changes to the bill to ensure it is consistent with existing law and meets the standard for the creation of new criminal offences.

One amendment is to provide for a separate offence of up-skirting - taking a photograph up someone's skirt without their consent.

If Mr Flanagan's proposals are agreed by Cabinet, the Government amendments will be drafted on a priority basis so that it can progress in the Dáil.

Irish Independent

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