Change needed to protect online victims

The digital landscape is a fascinating beast. It can be a marvelous tool that improves society. It can have all the answers or provide a connection that would otherwise be out of reach. About 10 years ago we were introduced to the iPhone. Now we have smart watches, televisions and cars. We can turn our lights on while at work and have conversations with our devices.

At the same time it can be foreboding and intimidating. The unknowns could be deemed far scarier than the advantages.

With the introduction of technology comes the need to change our expectations around social behaviour and law.

The police had to introduce a no mobile phone policy for our roads. We have to teach the next generation to look up from their phone when crossing the road and how to have a conversation at the dinner table.

Policies in relation to technology are continually changing on flights and the digital disruption of accommodation had to be legislated. We will continue to adapt as new technologies come into play.

One thing we can’t control is how people behave behind a device. Hence the rise of illegal pornography, particularly child exploitation material and laws created to police the criminal behaviour.

This week The Examiner has highlighted the issue of revenge porn – digital material, like images and video, distributed by others to manipulate, cause shame or used as emotional or mental abuse.

They can be used for bribery or put instantly on the internet.  A lot of the cases go unreported due to feelings of shame.

This year New South Wales adopted new laws to make image-based abuse a crime. Those found guilty now face up to three years’ jail and an $11,000 fine. Victoria and South Australia have made it criminal to both distribute intimate images non-consensually and to threaten such distribution. 

Tasmania is yet to legislate and has been cautioned on how to go about it.

Some of the image-based abuse is from teenage boys who took photos of teenage girls. They upload and share the photos without understanding the harm. This upload and forget mentality is how they use social media in most instances.

Adding the names to the sex offenders register would not be appropriate for teens.  However, Tasmania must catch up to acknowledge the crime and the harm it causes through appropriate reprimand for adults and promote deterrence.