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Sending photos of private parts is to be outlawed

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Minister Helen McEntee

Minister Helen McEntee

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Minister Helen McEntee

Sending unsolicited nude pictures could be criminalised under proposals to outlaw the sending of intimate images without consent.

TDs across the Dáíl have backed proposals to make it an offence to send such explicit images to someone without their consent.

An upcoming Bill would mean a seven-year prison sentence for anyone caught sharing intimate images without consent and with intent to cause harm.

Intimate

It comes after it emerged that tens of thousands of intimate and sexual images were shared on the internet. The files were reported to include many pictures of Irish women.

The files were first uncovered by the Victims Alliance, a support group. It prompted widespread calls to fast-track plans to criminalise sharing images without consent.

The Victims Alliance called on politicians to also criminalise sending intimate images to someone without their consent - sometimes known as 'dick pics'.

The group said it was aware of cases where such images had been sent to children. Major social networks now hide or pixelate unsolicited images sent from unknown accounts due to the scale of the problem.

A number of TDs on the Oireachtas justice committee are to back plans to amend upcoming legislation so it would also criminalise sending indecent images to someone without the receiver's consent.

Fine Gael's Jennifer Carroll MacNeill told the Dáil how social media and phone firms were taking up to six months to respond to requests from gardaí about unwanted intimate images being sent.

Brendan Howlin, the Labour TD, said his party was waiting to see the final wording of government amendments to the bill and "whether the issue of someone sending explicit pictures of themselves without consent will be covered".

Justice Minister Helen McEntee yesterday brought amendments to Cabinet about a Labour bill designed to ban sharing intimate images without consent.

Under the proposals, it would be irrelevant if a picture was initially taken with a person's consent before being shared without it.

The legislation would also criminalise those who shared images without consent even without intent to cause harm. Under this, a person could face a fine of €5,000 and 12 months in prison for sharing images without consent.

Fianna Fáil's James Lawless, who chairs the justice committee, said the controversy over leaked intimate images last week "certainly gives this renewed impetus".

But he said TDs had already decided to prioritise this Bill when the committee was formed in September.

"Our laws have not kept pace at all with technology and society and it's essential we bring them forward," Mr Lawless said.

"The committee has and will be very proactive in this space over the term ahead."


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