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Proposed law change pitches three year jail term for revenge porn offenders

A proposed law change to explicitly make non-consensual posting of intimate images and recording, also known as revenge porn, illegal will go to Parliament after it was pulled from the ballot today. 

Source: 1 NEWS

Labour MP Louisa Wall's Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill makes it an offence for someone to post an intimate visual recording of someone else without their consent. 

"Posting a digital communication of an intimate visual recording online... is a form of sexual exploitation that involves the intentional, non-consensual disclosure of intimate visual recordings of another person who is either naked, exposed, or engaged in an intimate sexual activity," the bill writes. 

The person posting the recording online must either have known the victim did not express consent to it being posted, or have been "reckless as to whether the victim had done so" to be breaking the proposed law. 

The bill also allows for court to order the removal or disabling of the revenge porn recording.  

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Martin Cocker spoke to TVNZ1’s Breakfast about the findings of a survey about revenge porn. Source: Breakfast

"I think it makes it more explicit that there is this specific offence about the use of revenge porn," Justice Minister Andrew Little said today.

"It has a pretty serious penalty associated with it. I think it’s well-worth examining and look forward to it going to the select committee."

Currently, penalties range from imprisonment for two years or a fine up to $50,000. 

Under this proposed change, posting an intimate visual recording without consent could see a person face up to three years.

Research by Netsafe early last year found five per cent of New Zealand adults had been the victim of online image-based abuse, with instances reported by people over 70 years old.

Men and women were equal in reported instances. 

At the time, Netsafe CEO Martin Cocker said typical image-based sexual abuse reported from women tended to involve an ex-partner trying to maintain control, blackmail them back into a relationship or as retaliation for leaving the relationship.

"Sometimes these cases are part of a wider pattern of family violence."

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Netsafe's Martin Cocker thought the tool will "absolutely" come to New Zealand. Source: Breakfast

Men were more likely to report the reason behind the abuse was either a joke or extortion, "where they’ve engaged in sexual activity online with strangers, which has been recorded, and they are then being extorted for money".

Reasons that dissuaded people seeking help or reporting abuse could be seen in a 35 per cent chunk of New Zealanders who were unfamiliar with the law around imaged-based sexual abuse, coupled with victim blaming attitudes.

The current law requires harm was intended and the victim to undergo severe emotional distress. 

This gives an ability for those accused of revenge porn to argue there was no harm intended, along with a subjective view of 'severe emotional distress' puts a question mark beside whether or not the victim was severely harmed. 

According to police, there were 128 proceedings for offences under the Harmful Digital Communications Act that resulted in court action. 

Since the law was enacted in August 2015, there had been a total of 407 up until January this year.