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New hotline will help to remove intimate images shared online without consent

PEOPLE whose intimate images are shared online without their consent can now report it to a special hotline to help get them removed.

campaign is being launched today to highlight how sharing such images without consent is a form or abuse and carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison

Junior justice minister Hildegarde Naughton announced the new service, Hotline.ie/report, as part of an awareness campaign to warn anyone who engages in spreading such images online without permission that they are not only causing deep distress to the target, but perpetrators could end up in prison.

“Sharing an intimate image of someone without their consent is abhorrent and can have long-lasting and harmful emotional and mental health effects,” Ms Naughton said.

“Sharing or threatening to share intimate images is a form of abuse and there are no excuses for it. Motivations don’t matter.

“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.”

The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act, which was enacted last February, created new offences that criminalise the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

The law, colloquially known as Coco’s Law, was named after Dublin woman Nicole Fox, nicknamed ‘Coco’, who took her own life at the age of 21 in January 2018 after suffering online bullying that began when she was 18.

The new campaign includes videos and a 30-second ad that will run on YouTube and social media platforms to highlight the issue and explain how to get unwanted content removed.  

Ms Naughton said research commissioned by the Department of Justice has found that one in every 20 adults reports having had an intimate image of themselves shared online or on social media without their consent.

That figure rises to one in 10 for those aged between 18 and 37.

The independent research found that while only a small cohort claim to have shared an intimate image without consent, the most common motivations people had were for fun; they did not think it was a ‘big deal’; or to cause harm or distress to the person in the image.

The new advert looks at these motivations while also seeking to challenge the narrative that places some or all of the blame on the victim.

Anyone who has had an intimate image shared without their consent online can contact the helpline.

Hotline.ie is the national centre combating illegal content online. It handles reports of child sexual abuse material, activities relating to the sexual exploitation of children, racism and xenophobia, and is broadening its scope to provide a service for reporting intimate images shared without consent.

It will help with reporting and removing the content and also liaise with gardaí if the person wishes.

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