‘Revenge porn’ law change to criminalise posting intimate recordings without consent backed by all parties

Posting revenge porn online is on track to become a criminal offence, with the proposed law change being supported by all parties.

The amendment to the Harmful Digital Communications Act seeks to explicitly make posting of intimate images and recordings without consent illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.

It would also allow courts to issue take-down orders for revenge porn recordings.

Currently the Harmful Digital Communications Act requires someone to intend to hurt someone when they post explicit images.

And the prosecution has to prove posting the images caused harm.

Labour MP Louisa Wall, who is championing the amendment bill, said the law change would make the act of posting of intimate images and recordings without consent a crime.

“Those victims are harmed,” she told the House last year before its first reading debate was interrupted.

“To individuals there are physical and mental health issues—not in our jurisdiction but in other jurisdictions, this has led to suicide. There’s loss of dignity, privacy, and sexual autonomy.”

And it harmed society because of how the images and videos portray women and what message that sends to children if they become normalised, Wall said.

“This form of sexual abuse and violence is not normal and must be eradicated.”

A Netsafe survey in 2019 found 5 per cent of New Zealand adults – or 170,000 people – had been the victim of online image-based abuse, with instances even reported by people over 70 years old.

Ninety-five per cent of the victims were women.

“I think we should define it. It’s “sexting”, it’s dick pics, it’s revenge porn, or, as I categorise it, it’s image-based sexual abuse,” said Wall.

The National Party, the Greens, Act and Te Paati Māori will all support the bill.

National’s justice spokesman Simon Bridges said there could be very horrific and troubling circumstances of people posting harmful things online.

“And we think that it’s right that it’s dealt with in the law.

“At first blush the intent is clearly right, the purpose that it’s trying to achieve is clearly right and so National’s supporting it.”

Act’s justice spokeswoman Nicole McKee said they would also support the bill and at this stage didn’t foresee wanting to make any changes.

Earlier this year a Christchurch woman spoke out about spending thousands of dollars on civil court action to get a sex tape removed from PornHub after it was posted without her permission.

The woman told the Herald he asked to film them while they were having sex and assured her no one else would ever see it.

The pair split, then almost a year later a friend found the video on the site – which is one of the world’s largest websites – and after failing to get the video removed took civil action against the man. The judge issued a take-down order. The police are still investigating.

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