Revenge porn law: more clarity needed, say Lords

A person using computers and a mobile

Existing laws deemed 'fit for purpose', as social media sites and parents urged to tackle the practice

LAST UPDATED AT 09:56 ON Tue 29 Jul 2014

People who try to humiliate former lovers by posting "revenge porn" on the internet are breaking the law and can be dealt with under existing legislation, but "clarification" is needed on how, says a Parliamentary communications committee.

Revenge porn refers to sexually explicit photographs or video uploaded to websites by a victim's former partner to humiliate, control or blackmail them.

Lord Best, the crossbench peer who chairs the House of Lords Communications Committee said that terms such as revenge porn, cyber bullying and trolling "generally describe behaviour that is already criminal", the BBC reports.

Despite calls from campaigners and Lib Dem peers earlier this month for tough new laws to target offenders and claims that current legislation is ineffective, Lord Best said the existing laws are "generally fit for purpose".

Prosecutions for revenge porn can be brought under several pieces of legislation that pre-date social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube, including the Communications Act 2003, the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act.

However, the committee called on the Director of Public Prosecutions for "clarification as to when a person who sends an indecent communication could and should be prosecuted".

The committee also called for other steps to be taken to tackle the growing issue, including placing some of the responsibility on social media sites themselves as well as on parents and teachers.

It called on social media sites to willingly and quickly hand over information to police on alleged offenders as well developing systems to monitor abuse and protect potential victims. The committee also suggested that children and teenagers need to be taught "acceptable online behaviour" at home and at school. · 

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