Revenge Porn: Know Your Rights

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By St Kilda Legal Service

Victoria was the first Australian state or territory to introduce specific revenge porn legislation. South Australia introduced laws in October and New South Wales is considering them. A 2015 survey on online abuse and harassment reported that 1 in 10 Australians have had a nude or semi-nude image of them distributed online or sent onto others without their permission

Revenge porn is intimate images or videos that have been intentionally distributed without the consent of the individual involved and the distribution of the image is contrary to community standards of acceptable conduct.

Intimate images include a person engaged in sexual activity, a person in a manner or context that is sexual; or the genital or anal region of a person or, in the case of a female, the breasts.

In the state of Victoria is someone distributes revenge porn they can be liable for up to two years of imprisonment under the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic). It’s also an offence to threaten to distribute intimate images.

They could also be charged under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). A person must use a “carriage service” to menace, harass or cause offence. They could be liable for imprisonment for up to three years. Carriage service includes using devices like phones and texting or posting images. If someone threatens you they could be liable for imprisonment for up to one year.

If under threat you should report this behaviour to police immediately and keep detailed records of any evidence like texts, e-mails, telephone records, images and videos.

If someone has already distributed the revenge porn you could also make a civil claim for breach of confidence, as well as intentionally causing mental harm. The Court your case will be heard in is dependent on the amount that you’re seeking in damages and the complexity of your case.

The Magistrates Court can hear civil matters involving damages of up to $100,000. The County Court can hear matters with damages of $100,000 and more. There is no limitation on the civil jurisdiction of the County Court.

The Supreme Court has an unlimited civil jurisdiction and can hear appeals, matters involving complex legal issues and urgent applications for injunctions. An injunction is an order to restrain a person from starting or continuing to do something, in this case – distributing intimate images.

Most likely a community legal centre will be unable to assist with civil matters where you’re seeking damages.

St Kilda Legal Service has produced a Revenge Porn factsheet – it’s available at www.skls.org.au/education. If you need legal advice call St Kilda Legal Service on 9534 0777 to make an appointment.

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