Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)

Criminalising Revenge Porn in Northern Ireland: Laws and Lessons from England and Wales and other Common Law Jurisdictions

Criminalising Revenge Porn in Northern Ireland: Laws and Lessons from England and Wales and other Common Law Jurisdictions

Dr Taiwo Oriola (Ulster) –

Revenge pornography encapsulates the act of online distribution or publication of sexually explicit private images or films of an ex-girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner, without their consent; with a view to humiliating or causing distress for a perceived wrong or slight.

Whilst revenge pornography predates the Internet, the ubiquitous Internet, the social media and the proliferation of mobile digital devices for capturing intimate images, have been previously found to exacerbate the problem. The epidemics of revenge pornography led to its criminalisation in England and Wales in April 2015, via sections 33-35 of the Criminal Justice Act 2015; and subsequently in Northern Ireland in February 2016, via sections 50-53 of the Justice Act, Northern Ireland 2016.  The criminalisation of revenge porn helped highlight the seriousness of the problem, and led to successful prosecution of 206 people in England and Wales within a year of the enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2015. In Northern Ireland, there is as yet, no reported prosecution for revenge pornography under sections 50-53 of the Justice Act 2016. However, in 2016, two revenge pornography cases were heard by the Queen’s Bench Division of Belfast High Court, in which the plaintiffs sought civil remedies. (AY a minor acting as next friend v. Facebook (Ireland Limited & others, [2016] NIQB 76; and MM v. BC, RS and Facebook Ireland Limited, [2016] NIQB 60).

Whilst drawing on legislative and judicial responses to revenge pornography in England and Wales and other common law jurisdictions, this presentation reviews the provisions of sections 50-53 of the Justice Act 2016, and highlights civil remedies that could be available to victims of revenge pornography. Also, the presentation explores the legal responsibility of social media platforms, and the extent to which technical measures could be deployed alongside existing legal measures to combat online revenge pornography.

This Seminar took place on 9th May 2018

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