26 September 2023

Online abusers to face tougher penalties

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The eSafety Commission says people who post an intimate image without consent, including deep-fakes, could face up to $111,000 in penalties.

In addition, online platforms will be forced to take down image-based abuse material faster under new powers given to the Commission enshrined in an updated Image-Based Abuse Scheme, a key part of the new Online Safety Act, which comes into force on 23 January next year.

Speaking at the 13th Australian Cyber Conference, eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant said image-based abuse affected one in 10 Australians and it disproportionately harmed younger women aged 18 to 25, where the incidence was one in five.

“Under our updated Image-Based Abuse Scheme, the time online platforms get to take down image-based abuse material after eSafety issues a removal notice is reduced from 48 hours to 24 hours,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“Under the new rules, eSafety can also name and shame platforms which allow publication of non-consensual shared intimate images on two or more occasions in a 12-month period and are in breach of their own terms of service,” she said.

Ms Inman Grant said there would also be major consequences for perpetrators who shared or threatened to share sexual images of victims, images of victims without religious or cultural attire, or those who used new types of technologies against victims.

“Aside from facing possible criminal charges in their jurisdiction, eSafety can seek penalties of up to $111,000 if they post or threaten to post an intimate image, including those that threaten sextortion,” she said.

“The changes will also cover image-based abuse via new types of technologies as they become more popular in the future, such as deep-fakes and immersive technologies — all tech trends and challenges we have previously identified.”

Ms Inman Grant said eSafety helped victims of image-based abuse every day and hoped to do more to protect Australians with these expanded powers.

The update to the Image-Based Abuse Scheme is among a series of new regulatory guidance to be released by eSafety between now and the end of the year.

The 16-page Image-Based Abuse Scheme Regulatory Guidance can be accessed at this PS News link.

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