Thursday, 17 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Report and Final Stages
Before I speak to the amendment, I will respond to the statements made by the Minister of State as to why we could not alter some of the amendments because the Bill needed to be ready tonight for tomorrow. I just checked with some Senators and they received a message from the Bills Office today saying that once the Bill is passed, a new version will be sent to them tonight, depending on the amendments that have been accepted on Report Stage. I do not think we can justify not accepting amendments on the grounds of time restrictions because Senators will receive a written report on the outcome of amendments made following Report Stage. We can still have a proper to and fro debate and if amendments are deemed worthy of acceptance, as I believe Deputy Howlin's was, we should accept them tonight. On that, I apologise to Deputy Howlin for omitting his contribution to the Bill in my previous statement. I know he worked hard on it over the past couple of years.
This amendment is a sensible one in accordance with technology and groups such as WhatsApp groups, where these images may be stored. It might be several years before a person becomes aware their image is being violated, cheered and disseminated through different groups. The law has to be in accordance with how technology is evolving so it is important we accept that it might be some time before a person becomes aware that their image has been misused to this extent and that we factor that into the laws as we make them. That is why I hope the Minister of State will accept this amendment.