Calls for law on 'revenge porn'

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the uploading of sexually explicit media to the internet without the consent of the subject is becoming a bigger problem in Britain

Chris Grayling said revenge porn was becoming a "bigger problem"

First published in National News © by

People who post so-called "revenge pornography" images of former lovers on the internet could face up to a year in jail under plans set to be debated later this month in the House of Lords.

The move, being led by two Liberal Democrat peers, follows an indication by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling that the Government was open to taking action on the issue.

The Justice Secretary said the uploading of sexually explicit media to the internet without the consent of the subject - often an ex-partner of the person posting the material - is becoming a bigger problem in Britain.

Lib Dem peers Lord Marks and Baroness Grender have tabled amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill which would make it an offence to publish an intimate or pornographic image without consent.

The move to change the law follows a campaign by Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, who said: "I do not often call for new criminal sanctions-it is not my natural style.

"In this case, however, I think we need to make a criminal sanction available when people share indecent images in the knowledge that consent would not have been given."

Lord Marks said: "We hope to work closely with ministers within the Ministry of Justice to ensure that this offence reaches the statute book."

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said it was an area that needed to be "looked at very carefully" when asked about the issue at a regular briefing in Westminster.

In the Commons yesterday Mr Grayling told MPs: "It's clearly becoming a bigger problem in our society."

He said the Government was " very open to having a serious discussion about this with a view to taking appropriate action in the autumn if we can identify the best way of doing so".

He was responding to former culture secretary Maria Miller, who described posting revenge pornography on the internet as an "appalling crime" and suggested that the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill could be used to change the law.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill amendment is due to be debated in the Lords on July 21.

Emma Carr, acting director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "The Government must ensure that any new laws created to police what is posted on the internet is done so with a clear head and not in the heat of the moment.

"Judging what is and isn't acceptable, whether it be a comment or a picture, is a very difficult decision to make and is often a matter of individual opinion rather than something that is easily measured. Asking the police to make that judgment call could be a recipe for disaster.

"There is already legislation in place, including the Malicious Communications Act, Sexual Offences Act or the Harassment Act, which could be used to prosecute in these sorts of cases.

"Therefore, perhaps a more productive response would be to educate police on the powers that are already available to them, rather than creating entirely new legislation."

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