A Commissioner with the Law Reform Commission has said that the intentional shaming of somebody should be punishable, where it involves the distribution of images without consent, with a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and/or fines.

Professor Donncha O’Connell was speaking after the LRC issued proposals to bring about new legislation to deal with cyber crime and the posting of online images without consent.

The proposals would see two new criminal offences enacted to deal with voyeurism and so-called "revenge porn". 

The commission is also proposing reform to the existing offences of sending threatening messages and of harassment.


Under the reform, the offences would be extended to include the posting of fake social media profiles.

Professor O’ Connell described the new proposals as "very balanced" and "not an attempt to police the internet". 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O'Rourke the Commissioner said that the proposals to introduce a digital commissioner are based on a model in Australia and will attempt to develop a compliance culture that is both practical and meaningful.

Professor O'Connell said the Commission would need to have statutory powers and the office would have to be resourced if it was to operate properly.

The LRC engaged with digital providers during the proposal process.

Professor O'Connell said that the providers engaged seriously with the Commission and the Commission is hoping they will engage seriously with the proposals in the report.

He said that these proposals would not be difficult to pass through the houses of the Oireachtas.

Also speaking on Today with Sean O’ Rourke a victim of so-called "revenge porn" welcomed the proposals saying that the phrasing seemed to cover everything.

Jane said that she did not feel a seven year sentence for perpetrators of cyber crimes was long enough, based on the long-term psychological damage caused to victims such as herself.

Women's Aid Director Margaret Martin said she is very concerned about the issue of "revenge porn", adding that her organisation has received reports of it, particularly from younger women.

She said there needs to be an effective remedy and welcomed the plan for a digital commissioner. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Ms Martin said: "I think one of the good things about this publication (the LRC report) is that there is going to be a commissioner.

"My initial response to this is that it seems to be very well thought out legislation... I think it's really good to see this initiative to see how this will progress."

She said "revenge porn" is a serious invasion of a woman's privacy and has a profound effect on women in terms of their confidence. 
The proposals were also welcomed by barrister and cyber crime expert, Pauline Walley.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland Ms Walley said the recommendation of a digital commissioner is significant.

Very often, she said, service providers are reluctant to get involved and take down harmful material.

However she said victims should not have to go to lawyers or court at all and that there "should be a clear take down trail."

Meanwhile, the Government Chief Whip has said that social media giants need to "step up to the plate" and be far more serious about defending those who are abused on social media.

Regina Doherty said they should be moderating and policing their own platforms.

She said that she, personally, had noticed that Twitter has improved over the last number of months.

Also speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland Ms Doherty said social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter should be "moderating and policing their own platform".