Update on the Criminalisation of Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images in WA: Another Conviction in Australia

By Olivia O’Brien, Philip Murray and Kathleen Weston

Just a few months ago, we published an article on the criminalisation of the non-consensual distribution of intimate images in Western Australia. Only this week, there has been a second successful conviction under the Criminal Law Amendment (Intimate Images) Act 2018 (WA) (WA Act) in the Rockingham Magistrate’s Court.

Terri-Lee Carmen, a teaching assistant, faced a maximum penalty of three years in jail and an $18,000 fine after pleading guilty to hacking her victim’s Facebook account and sharing her intimate photographs. Magistrate Edwards described the offences as “extremely distressing for the victim” but found that Ms Carmen was unlikely to reoffend and had “treatment needs” before imposing a nine-month community-based order with supervisions.

The non-consensual distribution of intimate images and videos, colloquially referred to as ‘revenge porn’, overwhelmingly effects women. Victims are often also trapped in cycles of domestic violence. Unfortunately this humiliating and devastating act is a growing issue, with the eSafety Commission revealing that 1,400 cases have been reported to the national organisation since it started accepting reports in October 2017.

The WA Act amends the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA) by creating a new offence relating to the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, allowing Courts to order a perpetrator to take down intimate content.

The WA Act is part of a national tapestry of legislation aimed at stamping out this behaviour. The Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 (Cth) creates a civil penalties scheme which imposes liability on offenders nationally, and in all Australian states and territories (with the exception of Tasmania), persons can now be prosecuted under criminal legislation for image-based abuse. Criminal and federal laws also protect victims who are subject to related offences such as blackmail and stalking.

There is momentum building nationally in support of the enforcement of civil and criminal penalties and more and more victims are coming forward.   

K&L Gates founded the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project on the principle that online dissemination of intimate photographs and videos without consent amounts to a “cyber civil rights” violation.

If you or someone you know is a victim of non-consensual intimate image dissemination the Australian branch of the K&L Gates’ Cyber Civil Rights Project may be able to provide you with pro-bono legal assistance.

In Australia, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for crisis support.

Copyright © 2019, K&L Gates LLP. All Rights Reserved.