Counter Culture / October 19, 2022

Cyberflashing set to become a criminal offence

Image: Unsplash
Counter Culture / October 19, 2022

Cyberflashing set to become a criminal offence

Words: Ellen Kenny

New amendments to an online safety bill will fine social media companies who do not remove any cyberflashing from their websites.

Online flashing is set to be made a criminal offence in a move that aims to make the internet a safer space.

Under amendments to the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill proposed by Minister Catherine Martin, it will be a crime to expose genitalia online with the aim of causing fear or distress to another person.

Social media companies will face fines of up to 20 million euro or 10 per cent of their profits if they do not comply with the law by removing any imagery that counts as cyberflashing. In cases where there is online non-compliance, criminal sanction for management would apply. It is not yet clear how the amendment suggests social media companies monitor cyberflashing on their website.

Earlier this year, the UK Government made cyberflashing a criminal offence, with perpetrators facing up to two years in jail.

Other amendments

The overall purpose of the Online Safety Bill is to establish a Media Commission, Coimisiún na Meán, including an Online Safety Commissioner. This aims to create a new regulatory framework for online safety and reduce harmful content online.

As well as making cyberflashing a criminal offence, Coimisiún na Meán may make media services codes to promote gender balance on TV and radio current affairs programmes and promote the broadcasting of music composed or performed by women on radio services.

The bill passed through the Seanad in July, completed second stage in the Dáil last month, and committee stage is scheduled for later this month.

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