Thursday, 17 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Report and Final Stages
The issue here is about the date on which the offence was committed and how that is interpreted. We would like to get clarity from the Minister of State in respect of that. Is the offence committed on the date that the picture or the subject of the complaint is published or made available, or is an offence committed each time an image is made available? Could that be constructed as a separate offence? I ask the House to consider a situation in which somebody puts a picture up on a particular website or sends it to the far side of the world. That image may be available in the Far East for a period of time and nobody, including the person whose image it was, would know it was there for a considerable length of time. If that person then discovered it, would the two-year limit apply from the time of the discovery that the image was out there, or from when it was first published or sent?
The issue of the time limit really needs to be dealt with. Time in these circumstances does not in any way limit the damage caused to the person whose image has been abused in this manner.