The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which has a specific amendment dealing with revenge porn, will receive Royal Assent and become law. If found guilty of the crime, offenders will face up to two years in jail. This new amendment covers images  that are sent on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and those sent by text message.

The new English and Welsh law will now class revenge porn as “photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public”. The law covers images shared on and offline without the subject’s express permission and with the intent to cause harm. The physical distribution of these images will also be covered in the law.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are also considering laws that are similar to those being amended in England and Wales. The Scottish Government has informed BBC there have been plans to consult on making revenge porn a specific offence. Scotland are not alone in the matter, as Northern Ireland’s Department for Justice has said there were already laws to prosecute revenge porn offenders, but that ministers would be considering the case for a new offence.

The victims of revenge porn have found it hard to have the pictures removed from the Internet after the incidents occur. Numerous sites where the images are hosted are based outside the United Kingdom. This often leads to requests to remove content being ignored.  Because there was little specific legislation in place, some people have sought legal workarounds to have images removed. The most commonly used method is through copyright law. This is used because if an intimate picture has been taken as a “selfie”, then then image’s copyright belongs to the person taking the image.

According to information from eight police forces in England and Wales, which has data on this issue, there were 149 allegations of revenge porn that were made between January 1st 2012 and July 1st 2014. The vast majority of victims were women. Six incidents have resulted in action by the police.

Former culture secretary Maria Miller informed BBC Radio 4 that the law needed to change. She said: “By putting this in place the government has given young women the opportunity to protect themselves from their lives being blighted. She continued, “When you speak to the victims of these crimes, many say that it feels as if you’ve been virtually raped…You can’t underestimate the impact of having an image distributed to many people around the world.”

[Image via halsburyslawexchange]

SOURCE: BBC News