New ‘sexting’ laws commence today

· New offences for distributing intimate images without consent
· Young people protected from inappropriate prosecution
· Napthine Government building a safer Victoria

New offences for maliciously distributing or threatening to distribute intimate images of another person come into force today, along with new laws to ensure that young people who engage in non-exploitative ‘sexting’ don’t end up with criminal records or on the sex offenders register.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said under the new laws two new summary offences of ‘distribution of an intimate image’ and ‘threat to distribute an intimate image’ in circumstances contrary to community standards of acceptable conduct have been created.

The offences apply to the distribution of images of anyone under 18 years of age, and the distribution of images of adults without consent.

The new offence for distribution carries a penalty of up to two years in prison and the new offence of threatening to distribute carries a penalty of up to one year in prison.

“Previously, the law provided only limited protection against malicious distribution of intimate images and this behaviour can cause considerable harm to victims, especially when images ‘go viral’,” Mr Clark said.

“These new offences send a clear message that the malicious use of intimate images to embarrass and denigrate a victim is unacceptable and is a criminal offence.”

The new laws also introduce certain exceptions to child pornography offences so that young people under 18 years of age are not inappropriately prosecuted or added to the sex offenders register for consensual, non-exploitative sexting.

These laws fulfill the Napthine Government’s commitment to implement the recommendations of the Victoria Parliamentary Law Reform Committee’s report following its Inquiry into Sexting.

“It is important that the law keeps up with rapid changes in the use of technology,” Mr Clark said.

“These laws ensure that anyone under 18 who creates, possesses or distributes an intimate image or ‘sext’ of themselves or of another minor who is less than two years younger than them, will not be guilty of child pornography offences.”

The exceptions do not apply if the image depicts a criminal offence such as a sexual assault and do not apply to anyone over 18 years of age.