Galway TD and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton has launched a government campaign combatting the sharing of intimate images without people’s consent.
As part of this, the Department of Justice has launched a new tool, Hotline, where people can report illegal content being shared online
Launching the campaign, Minister Naughton said that it is “abhorrent” to share intimate images without someone’s permission, adding that it can have “long lasting and harmful” effects on people, emotionally and mentally.
The Hotline tool allows members of the public to make a report directly online to Hotline.ie/report, and the service will then work to get any images or videos removed from the internet.
Along with this, the Department of Justice is also running an awareness campaign to highlight sharing intimate images of another person without their consent is now a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison.
“Sharing or threatening to share intimate images is a form of abuse, and there are no excuses for it. Motivations don’t matter,” Hildegarde Naughton said.
“If you share an intimate image without consent, you share in the abuse and there is legislation in place with appropriate punitive measures that will challenge the actions of these abusers.”
Coco’s Law, otherwise known as the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act, was enacted last February to criminalise sharing pictures of someone without their consent.
The awareness campaign also includes a number of new videos and social media assets, as well as a 30-second advertisement developed by creative agency TBWA, which will be running on video on demand, YouTube, and other social media platforms.
Independent research commissioned by the Department of Justice found that one adult in 20 claims to have had an intimate image of themselves shared to an online or social media site without consent.
This is even more of a problem among younger people aged 18-24 and 25-37, where as many as one in ten people have had such images shared.
This research found that the most common motivations for people who post these pictures are for fun, they don’t think it’s a big deal, and to explicitly cause pain to the other person.
One woman whose life has been severely impacted by this is Alexandra Ryan, Founder and CEO of Goss Media. Five years ago a man she was in a relationship with secretly filmed her in an intimate setting, and that video later found its way online.
Ms Ryan is telling her story as part of the awareness campaign to help encourage other victims to report this crime.
“When I found out that someone I trusted had taken an intimate video of me without my knowledge or consent, I felt utterly helpless and alone.”
“The footage was then taken by another woman and shared, again without my consent. At that time, there was no law against filming or sharing intimate footage without consent. I felt broken, judged and ashamed.”
“It took me five years to tell my story and I can honestly say that this horrific exploitation has caused endless emotional pain and suffering that I still battle to this very day.”
“I think it’s important now more than ever to give a voice to victims who have been through something similar, or in some cases, a lot worse.”
She said that this legislation will be a lifeline for victims, and let everyone know, victims and abusers alike, that there will be consequences.