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Complaints About Revenge Porn Have Risen By 1,300%

"All take-down notices issued to date have been complied with."

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Complaints about "revenge porn" – the sharing of an "intimate image" without the subject of the photo's consent – to the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner (OCeSC) have risen from 24 in 2015/16 to 335 in the last nine months.

In response to questions from the Senate's communications committee, the OCeSC said it had successfully removed 128 intimate images shared online without consent in the last two years.

The office said the images were of girls and women aged under and over 18.

"Where there are illegal images of children online and the images are hosted in Australia, the OCeSC works with law enforcement and internet service provider partners to have the images removed, including potentially by issuing a take-down notice," the office said.

"All take-down notices issued to date have been complied with."

A take-down notice is a directive to the person who uploaded or hosts the image, asking them to remove it. If it is not taken down, they risk facing prosecution or other legal action.

The office has the power to force the removal of non-consensual intimate images of under 18s under the Broadcasting Services Act, but it doesn't have any legal powers to remove intimate images of adults that have been posted without consent.

In November, the minister for women Michaelia Cash said the government was considering penalties for revenge porn perpetrators and the websites that host their material, but there has since been no progress.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions' (CDPP) submission to a revenge porn Senate inquiry said existing laws didn't cover all types of revenge porn.

“There are limitations on existing Commonwealth laws to adequately deal with ‘revenge porn’ conduct,” the CDPP submission read.

The Council of Australian Governments Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children, chaired by former Victorian police commissioner Ken Lay, has also called on the government to legislate stronger criminal sanctions and penalties.

The Department of Communications and the Arts will release a discussion paper on a proposed civil penalty regime to deal with sharing revenge porn in coming months.

The OCeSC plans to launch a national complaints portal to provide support and assistance to adult victims of online abuse later this year.

Research from RMIT and Monash University released last week found one in five Australians have had images or videos of a nude or sexual nature taken without their consent.

Eleven percent of people have had images distributed without consent and 9% said they received threats that the images would be shared.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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