25 January 2018

Strong police warning for people trading images of Canberra girls on revenge porn site

| Glynis Quinlan
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School students. Photo: iStock

Sexual images of Canberra school students are among those being traded on the site.

Police are warning those trading sexual images of Canberra girls and women without consent on a revenge porn website that they do not have anonymity and that ACT Policing has successfully prosecuted people for this sort of offence in the past.

ACT Policing was involved in investigating the same website in 2016, with it being successfully taken down at the time after it was referred to the eSafety Commissioner.

However, the site has resurfaced and images of Canberra high school students are among those being traded – with offenders boasting of the ‘wins’ (or images of women) they have to trade. Users on the Canberra thread have requested images from specific schools and universities.

An ACT Policing spokesperson said they are aware of the website and it is currently being assessed.

“We take any reports of image-based abuse seriously and ACT Policing works closely with identified complainants/victims to assist in the successful resolution of these matters,” the spokesperson said.

“We work closely, domestically and internationally, with numerous agencies in an effort to protect the community, especially young people from intimate image-based abuse.

“ACT Policing has successfully prosecuted numerous people for intimate image-based abuse offences and reminds those involved in this behaviour that online offending does not provide anonymity in these cases.”

A spokesperson for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner said the office had received a number of recent reports about the website.

“Our image-based abuse team is taking action on these reports while ensuring that the victims in question are receiving the help and support they need during such a distressing time,” the spokesperson said.

“Where images are reported to us, we contact the site and seek rapid removal of the material.

“We have used this approach in the past, with considerable success—resolving over 150 cases this way to date.

“If intimate images of Australians are shared online without consent, we encourage them to report to us, identifying the images, so that we can take removal action.

“At esafety.gov.au/imagebasedabuse you can find practical information and advice about what to do if you have been the victim of image-based abuse.”

ACT Greens spokesperson for Women and Young People, Caroline Le Couteur said the resurfacing of the website would be worrying for the parents of young women and that trading photos on the website is illegal.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that it is illegal. It is illegal because it involves children under 16, it’s illegal because it is using the internet which is a carriage service,” she said.

Ms Le Couteur said the resurfacing of the website points to a real need for education.

“We need to educate our young people about what is socially acceptable and that this is not acceptable and educate our young women in particular that if they are a victim of this sort of exploitation then it is not their fault.

“These young men need to realise that this is just inappropriate and the young women need to realise that what the young men are doing with their images is wrong, inappropriate and of course illegal.”

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