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Justice secretary supports debate on criminalisation of “revenge porn”

Posted by malcolm on Friday, July 4th, 2014 at 11:46

Distributing explicit photographs of an ex-partner without their consent – commonly known as “revenge porn” - may soon be made illegal in the UK, according to the justice secretary, Chris Grayling.

Responding to a question from Maria Miller MP, Grayling said:

You have done a very important job in raising this issue. It’s clearly becoming a bigger problem in our society. What I’d say to you today is the government is very open to having a serious discussion about this with a view to taking appropriate action in the autumn if we can identify the best way of doing so.

The issue is also supported by Liberal Democrat MP, Julian Huppert, who on Monday tabled an early day motion calling for the criminalisation of “revenge porn”.

This House ...notes that whilst the images are often taken with full consent, their dissemination is not; further notes that the dissemination of these images have ruined lives, destroyed careers and caused untold psychological damage; understands that currently there is no specific legislation to deal with the problem; and urges the Government to bring forward legislative proposals to criminally sanction individuals who breach the privacy of others through these vengeful acts.
Early day motion 192, Revenge Pornography

In the House of Lords, Lord Marks and Baroness Grender have proposed an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which would create an offence punishable by up to a year in prison.

While the principle behind such legislation is widely supported, some commentators have urged caution in ensuring that legislation is clear and tightly defined so that it does not, for example, criminalise publication of images that are embarrassing or unflattering but which are not sexually explicit, and does not outlaw images which are published in the public interest rather than for the purposes of personal harassment.

Judging what is and isn’t acceptable is a very difficult decision. This is down to the fact that deciding where the line should be drawn as to what constitutes ‘porn’ in these cases, and indeed whether it has been shared for the purposes of ‘revenge’, is not a simple judgement call to make. ...We therefore support Chris Grayling’s call for an “open discussion”; however we hope that this will be of a clear and level headed nature, rather than a knee-jerk reaction.
— Emma Carr, Big Brother Watch

It will also be important that legislation targets those who carry out such vengeful acts, rather than attempting to tackle the problem indirectly by creating new liabilities for intermediaries.

For more information, see: Justice secretary says government is open to debate on legality of uploading sexually explicit media on internet without consent - The Guardian

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