Submissions open on bill addressing image based abuse

Tue 16 Mar 2021

Submissions are open on the Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill. The closing date for submissions is 23 April 2021.

The Justice Committee is calling for submissions on the Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill

The closing date to make a submission is 23 April 2021.

This bill would amend the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 to make it an offence to post an intimate visual recording online, knowing that the individual who is the subject of the recording has not consented to the video being posted.

Currently under the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 it can be an offence to share (or threaten to share) intimate images or videos of someone else without their consent if the person who shared the content intended to cause harm, and if that harm meets a threshold. The Explanatory Note of the Bill states:

"This Bill recognises that the non-consensual publication of an intimate visual image is in and of itself harmful because it involves a breach of trust and confidence as well as a significant invasion of privacy. Thus the harm is implicit in the action. The Bill aims to prevent and mitigate harm caused to individuals by this form of sexual exploitation and to assist in the elimination all forms of violence against women." 

This type of image based abuse is often referred to as 'revenge pornography.' The call for submissions notes that revenge pornography " 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."

Researcher Claire Meehan has written about the need to use the term image based sexual abuse to include the range and impact of the abuse, saying "There can be no question that ‘revenge porn’ is a consequence of gender inequality and should be framed within the context of domestic violence, rather than merely an online transgression."

Our previous news story highlighted reports on research into image based sexual abuse, pornography and online abuse and harassment in New Zealand. Find additional recent and international research in our library under our new Quick Search Topic Technology and Abuse.

Update: The Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill has been passed by Parliament. The changes came into affect in March 2022. For more information, seee the Ministry of Justice media release Changes to New Zealand’s Harmful Digital Communications Law and the NetSafe summary of the Act.

Background information

The Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 provides protections for individuals from online content that causes harm, such as online bullying, harassment, image based abuse and other forms of abuse and intimidation. It includes both civil and criminal provisions. In March 2019, media reported that the Harmful Digital Communications Act was under review. In July 2020 media reported the Act was still under review but the review had been delayed.

Related news

TeLENZ (Technology in Legal Education for New Zealand) is hosting a webinar on Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording on 19 March 2021. The panel includes Louisa Wall, CEO of Netsafe Martin Cocker, and researcher Paulette Benton-Greig. The panel will discuss the Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill and the related issues.

Submissions are open on the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill. The closing date to make a submission is 1 April 2021.

Related media

2 years in prison or $50K fine for ‘revenge porn’ offenders, One News, 03.03.2022

‘Emotionally disturbing’ - Revenge porn victim’s battle for justice, One News, 02.03.2022

Calls from MPs and survivor for protections for 'deepfake porn' victims, NZ Herald, 07.12.2021

Sharing intimate content without permission has 'serious consequences' - Netsafe, RNZ, 30.11.2021

Woman’s photo posted to porn site but only perpetrator gets access to counselling, RNZ, 29.11.2021

Chewing on bills: committees enjoy gristle, RNZ, 12.11.2021

Reports of harmful digital communication have increased 24 per cent in a year - Netsafe, Stuff, 18.07.2021

Revenge porn: Christchurch police won't charge man who uploaded sex tape without consent, cannot prove 'harm' to victim, NZ Herald, 11.07.2021

Louisa Wall on Revenge Porn: 'We need to stop it, because it's not right', One News, 11.07.2021

Images of sexual assaults shared among Dunedin teens, RNZ, 19.06.2021

A broken law: Rise of for-profit porn sites leaving 'revenge porn' victims stuck, One News, 18.06.2021

Forget the morality of sexting - we just need to change the law, Stuff, 08.06.2021

Harmful Digital Communications Act changes needed - lawyer, RNZ, 03.06.2021

Online abuse laws: Former National candidate Jake Bezzant allegations expose possible gap, RNZ, 02.06.2021

‘Revenge porn’ victims struggling for help from ACC, justice system, RNZ, 19.05.2021

Public help makes good bills great law, RNZ, 09.05.2021

Revenge porn, miscarriage bereavement leave, and abortion clinic safe zones tackled at Parliament, RNZ, 14.03.2021

'Revenge porn' law change to criminalise posting intimate recordings without consent backed by all parties, Stuff, 09.03.2021

Image: from Pexels

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