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Revenge porn laws needed in Ireland to stop rise in trend

NewsBy Lynne Kelleher
Revenge porn laws needed in Ireland to stop rise in trend

A TOP barrister has called for new Irish laws to make revenge porn or sharing intimate pictures without consent a crime.

The phenomenon, high­lighted in RTE's series 'Pix­ie's Sex Clinic', has emerged from a growing trend among young people of sexting – sending indecent images of themselves.

The rising number of revenge porn cases in the U.K. led to a new law being introduced last year which made it illegal to disclose a "private sexual pho­tograph or film" without the consent of the person depicted in the content.

Irish barrister Fergal Crehan, who specialises in privacy cases, says that Ireland needs to introduce new laws to protect victims.

He said: "This is a type of invasion of privacy where intimate photos or videos of a person are shared or pub­lished online without their consent.

"It can be pictures swiped off a Facebook page and placed in a kind of pornographic context without them knowing. It all comes under the heading of an invasion of privacy.

"I'm getting queries about it more than once or twice a month. It's all from women. We should have a criminal offence along the lines of what they have in England but there should also be steps you can take to get the photo taken down and destroyed.

"If your personal data is being used in a way that causes you distress you do have the right to have it stopped within 20 days, but that is a 1988 law and in 20 days your life could be ruined in this day and age.

"We need to look at tightening that way back to five days. I think there also needs to be a fine or some sort of a punishment.

"I think it also should be open to people not only to prosecute someone who does this to them but to sue them for damages."

At present, he said it is harder to deal with images shared by a text, Snapchat or Whatsapp than images posted on one website.

"You end up with dozens, maybe even hundreds, of copies of the image on lots of phones. They tend to be one-off photographs of girls taken by boy­friends or ex-boyfriends. That is very difficult. If it is one place, you go to that place and take it down."

One of the most infamous invasions of privacy was the iCloud leak, in which nude photos of celebrities such as Jennifer Law­rence were leaked online.

Jennifer Lawrence

In the final episode of Pix­ie's Sex Clinic, young people ad­mit that sexting is an integral part of 21st-century dating.

"Rule No.1 is to make sure your face isn't in it. That's a rookie mistake," said one young girl in the documentary.

In one of the most high-profile cases of its kind, an American jury awarded Hulk Hogan $115million after his court case against Gawker Media for posting a video showing him having sex with his friend's wife.

The former wrestler said he didn’t know he was being filmed when the video was made.

Last month in England, a jilted saleswoman turned her ex's life into a "nightmare" after posting explicit images of him online.

Ellie Melaugh is believed to be the first female convicted of tar­geting a man since the so-called 'revenge porn legislation' was introduced a year ago. She was sentenced to a 12-week jail term, suspended for two years,

Mr Crehan said his first case involved a woman who was baf­fled that she wasn't getting any call-backs to job interviews.

He said: "She Googled herself and the first two or three pages were a video she made with a boyfriend a few years before. He put this video up and obviously did it maliciously because he attached her name."

He said a sex tape was be­ing used in another case to blackmail a woman by her estranged husband during their bitter divorce.

He said 'you’d better do this deal with me otherwise I will show this video to your clients and your family'.

"The notion that peo­ple do it as a revenge for a break-up is some­times the motivation but sometimes it is just sheer badness or fellas want to im­press their mates. It doesn't matter what the motivation if your life is ruined by it."

Pixie's Sex Clinic will air on RTE Two at 9.55pm tonight.