Many of us will know someone who has been caught up in the world of "Revenge Porn". This is where a "sext" or "nude" has been sent from one person to another (usually within a relationship). The receiver then forwards that photo or video to other people, without the senders permission. During my time working at Technology Crime Investigation Unit, there were hundreds of such cases that came across my desk where I had no choice but to tell people there was nothing I could do to help them. Why? Because there is no legislation in Western Australia that covers such activity.
In the vast majority of cases, these were young women who had made the mistake of trusting an ex with an intimate photo or video that in most cases would be sent on to all and sundry once the relationship was over. It is not only women who fall prey to so called "Revenge Porn", as we have seen in the recent case of players from the Collingwood Football Club. But regardless, the legislation available for police to act on such matters did not exist. Finally, this is starting to change.
It will be slow, but eventually I am hoping that other states will follow the lead that has been set by the Victorian Government.
Victoria has recently introduced legislation that prohibits a person who has received a "sext" from sending it on to any other party. This is a massive step forward in protecting the privacy and dignity of those who choose to express themselves in that form. Don't get me wrong! It is still a huge risk for anyone to take a nude photo of themselves and send it electronically to another. Even the most severe legislation can never ensure such an image won't get out. But at least this is a start. At least this might stop a society of ex-partners from electing to humiliate those who chose to trust them with such a gesture in the first place.
The legislation specifically covers the receiving and then on-sending of an "intimate image" (this includes video). If convicted of such an offence, the offender is liable to a Level 7 imprisonment penalty, which is a maximum of 2 years imprisonment or a maximum fine of 35thousand dollars, or both.
The specific offence is outlined in Victorian state legislation within the Summary Offences Act of 1966, namely Section 41DA and can be read in its entirety here - Section 41 DA SOA 1966.
Clicking on the "Next" and "Previous" labels on the top of that page will give you the ability to navigate through other sections specific to this particular line of legislation. Section 40 outlines the definitions of wording within the legislation, whilst Section 41 DB also outlines the offence of threatening to send on someones' intimate images.
My goal is to continue to push our WA Government to introduce such legislation to cover this ever increasing issue. This type of legislation is unlikely to stop people sending nudes as that is another story all together. However, if it can stop those people who take pride in distributing such images, then I am all for making them not only morally accountable, but criminally responsible also.
I only hope Western Australian law makers can pull their fingers out and get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.