Age of consent in Western Australia
Selfies – what does the law say?
In Recent News (13th Feb 2018):
"The Senate has recently passed the Enhancing Online Safety (Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Bill 2017 which establishes a civil penalty regime that would, as outlined in the explanatory memorandum: “prohibit the non-consensual posting of, or threatening to post, an intimate image on a ‘social media service’, ‘relevant electronic service’, e.g. email and SMS/MMS, or a ‘designated internet service’, e.g. websites and peer to peer file services”, among other things.
It imposes a civil penalty, rather than a criminal liability, of $105,000 for individuals who contravene the prohibition; and a civil penalty of $525,000 for corporations who fail to comply with a ‘removal notice‘ that may require a social media service, relevant electronic service or designated internet service to remove an intimate image from their service. The Bill also empowers the eSafety Commissioner to investigate complaints, issue formal warnings and infringement notices, provide removal notices and written directions to ensure future contraventions do not occur. As a result, a significant amendment to the civil penalty regime was successful in the Senate today, namely to amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 to include specific criminal offences that would criminalise sharing and threatening to share, intimate images without consent.
While this amendment to introduce criminal offences in conjunction with the proposed civil penalty regime may return to the Senate after transmission through the House, this amendment could mean an incredible move toward justice for victims of image-based abuse. Many people – young people and adults – are capable and do engage in the consensual practice of sharing intimate images in a respectful, healthy, safe, loving or intimate way. But image-based abuse is the clear absence of consent and respect. Image-based abuse is perpetrated for various reasons: to humiliate, shame, intimidate, coerce, control, harass and violate victims, it’s also perpetrated for sexual gratification, social notoriety, and financial gain. Our standards and expectations of behaviour shouldn’t be so low that we hold victims partly responsible for the heinous actions of perpetrators.
When it comes to young people, there is a growing problem of young girls feeling pressure to send intimate images of themselves, and this is something that desperately needs to be addressed with respectful education initiatives and programs. We must teach young people about the safe use of technology and associated risks, consent, respect and we must empower young girls to take control of their online usage and agency – but we mustn’t, in any way, send the message that young people who send intimate images of themselves are somehow responsible for the actions of perpetrators who betray their trust or personal privacy. To echo the sentiments in the Senate: this Bill is a significant step in the right direction, and when taken in conjunction with the amendment to introduce Commonwealth criminal offences, today marks a significant move toward long-awaited justice for victims."
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