Seanad debates

Friday, 18 December 2020

Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages


10:00 am

Mary Seery Kearney (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Yes, exactly. Given that these offences occur on mobile devices and the person claims their device was hacked or someone knew their password, if a person is in an intimate relationship with someone and has their image on their mobile phone, the person has a responsibility to protect that image or to delete it if the person is no longer in that relationship or whatever may be the reason the person came into possession of that image. There is something here in that when we always must have intent we are removing responsibility for what is held. In civil law we would be talking about intellectual property, with the image being the intellectual property. If a sportsperson's image is used, they can sue on that basis. We are now creating a criminal offence but, by always inextricably linking it with intent, we cannot remove the responsibility, once a person is in possession and control of the image of somebody else, particularly a vulnerable image, that if the person did not have an intent that would give them an excuse. There may be a need for a lesser offence to be created on the basis of a strict liability offence that is justified if for no other reason than to create a deterrent that once a person has and is in control of someone image, the person has a responsibility and a duty always to protect that image and what happens to it. I support Senator Ruane in that respect.


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