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Pause before you post: NSW moves to criminalise revenge porn

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The NSW government has announced an intention to specifically criminalise the distribution of revenge porn without consent, in a move that will clarify the law and emphasise deterrence.

  • Introducing a specific criminal offence makes it clear that the distribution of intimate or sexually explicit images without consent carries serious consequences.
  • Currently in NSW, revenge porn would likely fall under s578C of the Crimes Act (NSW) 1900, which makes it a crime to publish an indecent article without consent. The maximum penalty is $11,000 or one year imprisonment (or both).
  • The government will soon begin consultations regarding the definition of “intimate” images, penalties for the offence and how it should apply to children.

Revenge porn laws are different in each state or territory

Victoria and South Australia are the only states to have introduced specific offences which criminalise the distribution of explicit images without consent.

  • In Victoria, maliciously distributing intimate images without consent is a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to two years, or one year for threatening to distribute such images.
  • In South Australia, the distribution of an invasive image can include revenge porn offences and has a maximum penalty of $10,000 or two years’ imprisonment. 

Nationally, revenge porn can attract Commonwealth charges

  • Under the Commonwealth Criminal Code it is illegal to use a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence. This includes threatening to post or posting material online or threatening to send or sending via text message. The maximum penalty is three years imprisonment.
  • The Commonwealth Criminal Code also places obligations on internet service providers and internet content hosts to alert the Australian Federal Police if they become aware that their service can be used to access material which may be believed on reasonable grounds to be child abuse material or child pornography.
  • That means ISP and website operators must alert the police to such posts.

The consequences can be serious

  • Revenge porn offences attract serious fines and possible jail terms, but you could end up with a criminal record that could impact on your reputation, employment prospects and travel plans.