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Thursday 18 October 2018

'Revenge porn may be punished with prison', says Howlin

Labour’s Brendan Howlin. Photo: Damien Eagers
Labour’s Brendan Howlin. Photo: Damien Eagers

People caught posting or threatening to publish 'revenge porn' images could face prison under new legislation, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has warned.

A Bill put forward by Labour also includes sanctions for cyber-bullying, harassment and stalking, with certain cases carrying maximum prison sentences of seven years.

Lewd

Mr Howlin said he expected convictions once the legislation was introduced.

It received cross-party support in the Dail yesterday afternoon.

"People in intimate relationships, when that relationship breaks down, they use images gathered during that relationship to harm their former partner," he said.

"Posting intimate, lewd and unacceptable images that were meant for an intimate couple is totally unacceptable and that will be outlawed in the Bill we have before the Dail."

Mr Howlin said laws currently in place dated back to 1951 and covered only bullying and harassment via post or text.

He said legislation needed to catch up with modern technology.

"The internet has to ensure that our citizens will not be bullied, harassed, hurt and in some instances crushed, as we've seen in the past," he said.

He said Ireland was behind many other countries in addressing these issues.

"Other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand are already well in advance of us," he said.

"There are already hundreds of convictions in the United Kingdom for actions that are not unlawful in this country. That is not acceptable.

Timely

"The problem with victims right now is they know the hurt that's been caused to them but they have no recourse to law.

"Our very own law, going back to 1951 in the Post Offices Act, which was designed in an era of postal communications, is totally out of sync with the requirements of a modern tech-savvy country."

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the Bill was "very timely" and "appropriate".

He added that internet companies had a leadership responsibility and they must engage on online standards and safety.

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