Ireland ‘behind the curve’ in legislation to tackle revenge porn

Fianna Fail has called for introduction of new law to tackle “very difficult phenomenon”

‘Huge psychological damage has been caused to many victims’ of revenge porn, Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin has said. Photograph: Getty Images

‘Huge psychological damage has been caused to many victims’ of revenge porn, Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin has said. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Fianna Fail has called on the Government to introduce legislation to tackle the issue of revenge porn.

Former minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald outlined proposals to address this matter in December 2016 in an interview with The Irish Times. However, there has been no progress on the matter since Ms Fitzgerald’s comments.

Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin said this was a “very difficult phenomenon” that required legislation.

Huge psychological damage has been caused to many victims, she said, citing one case where a man took his own life after handing over sums of money to a person threatening him.

Ms O’Loughlin said: “ Ireland is completely behind the curve in dealing with this as we have no legislation in place to deal with revenge porn and help protect the victims of it. The present legislation, which was enacted in 1997, is completely out of date because it does not deal with smart phones or the advent of social media.

“There are many loopholes that can be exploited at this point in time. We absolutely have to deal with this and we have to act to protect the many victims who remain unprotected.”

There is currently no legislation to address revenge porn in Ireland. Revenge porn is the common name for sharing photos or videos of a sexual nature of another person without their consent.

It is currently covered by the definition of harassment in the Non-Fatal Offences Against the State Act.

Ms Fitzgerald had indicated she would create two new criminal offences, including making it illegal to intentionally post intimate images of a person online without their consent.

The legislative change would also extend the offence of harassment to ensure it includes activity online and on social media. And it would expand the offence of sending threatening or indecent messages to digital forms of communication.

In March last year, she instructed her officials to expand the definition of revenge porn to include forms of voyeurism including secret photographing or videotaping a person’s private parts in a public place.

However it has not progressed since. A Labour Party Bill will seek to address this matter in the House next week.