The Minister for Arts and Media Catherine Martin will bring a memo to Cabinet to amend the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill so that it includes the criminal offence of ‘cyberflashing’, or exposure, as a further category.
It is understood this amendment will enable the Online Safety Commissioner to deal with online content relating to the offence of flashing through systemic regulations.
If approved, it would make it a crime to send naked pictures to someone else online to cause fear or distress to another person.
Any breach of such a code for online safety could result in a fine of up to €20m for a provider, 10% of turnover and, where there is ongoing non-compliance with a code, criminal sanction for management.
It could see significant fines for tech companies that fail to take action on users sending unsolicited nude images – or so-called ‘dick pics‘.
The move is being proposed as part of an amendment to the Online Safety Bill.
Noeline Blackwell from the DRCC says there seems to be an acceptance among some people that it’s OK to flash someone online;
“If they were to do it in a nightclub for instance, if they were to expose themselves in that way, they would know it was wrong,” she said.
“But there seems to be a number of ways in which people think this is an acceptable behaviour, to target anyone through any form of social media, or online, to abuse somebody by exposing themselves.”
Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers says action on unsolicited pictures has been called for, for some time.
“Basically cyberflashing is where somebody sends an image of their naked body, or a body part, unsolicited to somebody, so somebody that didn’t ask for it, doesn’t want it, and often they don’t know the person.
“It can happen through dating apps, social media sites, it can even happen when you’re sitting on public transport through the air-drop facility on your iphone.”