Dáil debates

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Report and Final Stages


3:00 pm

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following: “ “intimate image” means a visual recording of a person made by any means including a photographic, film or video recording (whether or not the image of the person has been altered in any way)—
(a) (i) of his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts (whether covered by underwear or bare),

(ii) in which the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts,

(iii) in which the person is engaged in sexual activity, or

(iv) any facsimile image or part of an image generated by computer graphics or otherwise, purporting to be the genital organs, buttocks or anal region of the person or in the case of a female, her breasts, or purporting to be the person engaged in sexual activity,

(b) in respect of which, if it was recorded with consent, at the time of the recording and afterwards there were circumstances that gave rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy;”.
“ “consent” means the agreement by choice of a person who has the freedom and capacity to make that choice;”.

This amendment is important and this group of amendments are all related and similar. That shows the relevance of this type of amendment and the need for the Bill to address this issue. This amendment arises from all of the bodies that are interested in this Bill and have been pushing for it to be enacted, such as Rape Crisis Network Ireland. It is something that should be taken on board.

The definition of “intimate image” in section 1(a) above is confined to intimate images of the private body parts of the person himself or herself. It does not include intimate images of the body parts of strangers, which have been electronically superimposed upon non-intimate images without the knowledge or consent of the person whose image has been altered, or deepfaked. Deepfaking is a common and harmful form of image-based sexual violence. This is vitally important because while it may be somebody's face that is on the image but it could be somebody else's body and that is still an abuse and it should be recognised within this legislation. These amendments seek to cater for that.

I know the Minister, Deputy McEntee, said the Bill already covers this. I do not believe it does strongly enough and many of the groups that have an interest in this do not believe it is strong enough either. It is important we strengthen these provisions in the legislation. Once these images have been created, it is hard or even impossible to take them out of circulation. We have to have a chilling effect to stop the creation of these images at the start. If people are aware that they can be prosecuted for creating the images, that might have some impact on them and might go to reducing the volume of the images that are there. I ask that the Minister of State would take on board one or other of the amendments from this group so that this can be taken into account in the Bill.


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