The publication of intimate images without a person's consent will carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison under laws expected to be approved by Cabinet tomorrow. 

It is understood Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will seek Cabinet approval for the laws that will also expand the scope of harassment offences, to include consistent communication with or about a person - with a maximum penalty of ten years in jail. 

It follows the alleged sharing of thousands of images of Irish women on online forums.

Two new offences will be contained in amendments to the Harassment, Harmful Communication and other Related Offences Bill.

The first offence will deal with the distribution or publication of intimate images without consent and with intent to cause harm. It is intended to carry a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine and/or seven years' imprisonment. 

The second offence will deal with the taking, distribution or publication of intimate images without consent - without a requirement that the person intended to cause harm to the victim of the offence. 

It is intended that this offence will carry a maximum penalty of a €5,000 fine and/or 12 months' imprisonment. 

The fact that the person may have consented to the taking of an image will be irrelevant if it is subsequently published or distributed without their consent. 

It will be an aggravating factor for the purposes of sentencing if the perpetrator of the offence is or was in an intimate relationship with the victim of the offence. 

The Bill is silent of the types of technology that may be used to commit the offences in order to cover all forms of online and offline communications that cause harm to a victim. 

The amendments will also broaden the scope of the offence of harassment to cover consistent communications to or about a person, not just indecent images, and increasing the penalty from seven to ten years.

Minister McEntee is understood to have cross-party support for the Bill and has worked closely with Brendan Howlin of the Labour Party, who tabled the Bill in the last Dáil.

It is scheduled for committee stage in the Dáil on 1 December.