The crackdown will target both “revenge porn” by bitter ex-partners and the passing on of intimate images such as sexual selfies, which has become common in teenagers.
The criminalisation of image-based bullying will also cover sharing doctored sexual images of someone, also known as “morph porn”.
Intentionally recording or distributing intimate images “whether or not altered” without consent will soon be illegal in NSW
The move comes as studies show about one in five Australians have been the victim of “image-based bullying”, ranging from revenge porn to “slut-shaming” to “sextortion” or blackmail.
NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman will introduce the Crimes Amendment (Intimate Images) Bill 2017 into State Parliament this week, with the laws to come into effect this year.
Mr Speakman, who had met with several victims where intimate images had been shared without consent, said the new laws would make it easier for offenders to be prosecuted.
“Some images are shared for sexual gratification, in domestic violence settings, or as part of bullying or revenge,” he said.
Noelle Martin has spoken out about her experience: “One woman was under anaesthetic when a female nurse took her picture and showed it around, and another had a normal image of herself doctored and shared — the laws will cover both these cases.
“It will become an offence to share an intimate image without consent, no matter what your motivation is.”
Victims to welcome the laws include Macquarie University student Noelle Martin, who found “pages and pages” of explicit doctored images of herself in sexual acts on porn sites after an “innocent” Google image search five years ago.
It will be illegal to intentionally record or distribute an intimate image “whether or not altered” without consent. The law carries a maximum jail sentence of three years.
Revenge Porn explained
An “intimate image” will be defined as a person’s genital or anal area “whether bare or covered by underwear”, breasts of a female or those of a transgender or intersex person, and sexual acts.
Even distributing a photograph of an ex in underwear will also be deemed an offence if it was without consent.
Private acts include sex, being in a state of undress, using the toilet, showering, bathing or engaged in any kind of sexual act “not ordinarily done in public”.
The laws will also cover those who threaten to record or distribute such images, with recklessness such as being drunk not a viable excuse.
Distributing includes sharing images in person, or making them available electronically or digitally, such as via social media or smart phone.
Young offenders under the age of 16 will also be able to be prosecuted under the laws, although approval will first need to be given by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Those found guilty of the offence could also be directed to remove, delete or destroy an image, with a two-year maximum jail sentence applying should the order be refused. Being drunk when the offence was committed will be taken into account.