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Civil penalties scheme

How does the civil penalties scheme for image-based abuse, or ‘revenge porn’, work and what actions can we take?

Overview

The Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 (the Act) established a civil penalties scheme to address the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, otherwise known as image-based abuse.

This scheme allows victims of image-based abuse to make a report (complaint or objection notice) to the eSafety Commissioner. In response to a report, we may take removal action and, in some cases, also take action against the person who shared, or threatened to share, an intimate image without consent.

In recognition of the serious and harmful nature of image-based abuse, the civil penalties scheme offers victims relief by helping to get intimate images quickly removed. There are also a range of civil remedies to hold the person responsible for the image-based abuse accountable.

How does the civil penalties scheme work?

Under the Act, the eSafety Commissioner is responsible for administering a complaints and objections system in relation to image-based abuse.

Victims, or those authorised to act on their behalf, can report image-based abuse to us by completing an online report form.

We may give an enforceable removal notice to the service on which the intimate image is shared, or to the person who posted the image, requiring them to remove the image. We have arrangements in place with many social media services to work cooperatively with them for the quick removal of intimate images.

In some cases, we may take action against the person who shared, or threatened to share, intimate images. This action includes issuing a formal warning, giving an infringement notice and even seeking an injunction or civil penalty order from a court.

An application for a civil penalty order must be made within 6 years of the person sharing or threatening to share the images.

What is image-based abuse and what is an 'intimate image'?

Image-based abuse occurs when an intimate image is shared, or someone threatens to share it, without the consent of the person in the image.

The Act defines 'intimate image' as an image or video that shows, or appears to show:

  • a person's genital area or anal area (whether bare or covered by underwear) 
  • a person's breasts (if the person identifies as female or transgender or intersex)
  • private activity (e.g. if the person is undressing, using the bathroom, showering, bathing or engaged in sexual activity)
  • a person without attire of religious or cultural significance if they normally wear such attire in public

Report image-based abuse to eSafety

If someone has posted, or threatened to post, an intimate image of you, you can report it to us here.

Learn more