‘Upskirting’, cyberstalking, and revenge porn to be criminal offences

Tánaiste says acts 'can cause serious and lasting harm, particularly to young people'

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald: instructed her officials to expand the definition of revenge porn. Photograph:  Brenda Fitzsimons

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald: instructed her officials to expand the definition of revenge porn. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is to make it a criminal offence to photograph or take video footage up a woman’s skirt without her consent, a practice known as “upskirting”.

Ms Fitzgerald has also confirmed plans to legislate to make stalking, including cyberstalking, and revenge porn criminal offences.

She has now 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.

“It is important that we ensure our laws can deal effectively with phenomena such as so-called revenge pornography and the publication of voyeuristic material without consent, as recommended by the Law Reform Commission’s report,” Ms Fitzgerald said:

“These acts can cause serious and lasting harm, particularly to young people.”

The Minister for Justice will create a number of new criminal offences, including making it illegal to intentionally post intimate images of a person online without their consent.

Voyeurism

Another offence will deal with behaviour that “falls short of the intentional and egregious activity covered by the first offence, and covers the non-consensual taking and distribution of intimate images by any means of communication where this causes harm to that person but without any necessary intent to cause harm”.

This offence will carry a less serious penalty and will cater for “upskirting” among acts of voyeurism.

The legislative change will also extend the offence of harassment to ensure it includes activity online and on social media.

It will include indirect communication with a victim and the establishment of fake social media accounts.

The proposed Bill will also expand the offence of sending threatening or indecent messages to digital forms of communication.

The Tánaiste said the Government’s legislation followed a report by the commission, which recommended changes.

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.

Substantial impact

The commission report, which was published in September, identified a number of gaps in the legislation in particular in this area.

It found such abuses could have a substantial impact on a person, and could be linked to serious psychological harm.

The commission also proposed a statutory code of conduct for the digital industry in Ireland.

The commission proposes the new and extended offences will carry, on summary conviction, the maximum penalties of a class A fine, currently a fine not exceeding €5,000, and/or up to 12 months’ imprisonment; and on conviction on indictment an unlimited fine and/or up to seven years’ imprisonment.

Ms Fitzgerald informed her parliamentary party of the legislation last week and is due to publish the final Bill shortly.