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Social media sites face revenge porn fines

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December 06, 2017

Social media networks could face hefty fines for failing to prevent circulation of revenge porn.

Social media networks who fail to prevent the circulation of "revenge porn" could soon face fines of up to $525,000.

The tough new penalties, laid out in legislation introduced to federal parliament on Wednesday, are part of a concerted effort to crack down on the insidious problem.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said sharing revenge porn - or threatening to do so - was usually driven by a desire to cause harm, distress, humiliation or embarrassment.

"Often such threats are made in an attempt to control, blackmail, coerce, bully or punish a victim," Senator Fifield said.

"Other motives might include sexual gratification, entertainment, social notoriety or financial gain."

Consultation on the bill has unearthed harrowing stories about the psychological impact of revenge porn on victims.

"(This) can have negative implications which affect their reputation, family, employment, social relationships and even personal safety," the minister said.

Individuals will face fines of up to $105,000 for sharing intimate images without permission, while companies who refuse to pull them down could be slugged $525,000.

Infringement notices of $2500 for individuals and $12,600 for companies will be available to the eSafety Commissioner.

"The civil penalty regime will complement existing criminal laws and provide another avenue for victims to seek assistance and redress," Senator Fifield said.

There are criminal offences at both the Commonwealth and state level, but the minister noted the ability to take down intimate images quickly was of primary concern to victims.

Police also indicated victims were often reluctant to pursue criminal charges against perpetrators, which could result in lengthy, expensive and harmful court proceedings.

Under the civil penalty regime, a victim or someone authorised to act on their behalf could complain to the eSafety Commissioner.

The eSafety Commissioner could then act swiftly - armed with hefty penalties for perpetrators, social media services and content hosts - to have the images removed and to limit any further sharing.

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