Harmful Communications and Digital Safety Bill 2017: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to consolidate and reform the criminal law concerning harmful communications, to repeal certain provisions of the Post Office (Amendment) Act 1951 and the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997, to promote and encourage measures to improve digital safety for all persons, to provide for a take-down procedure for harmful digital communications, to confer certain powers on the courts in respect of intended civil proceedings, and to provide for related matters.

The Bill is based on the work of the Law Reform Commission and we hope it will act as a starting point for a solution to the area which is commonly known as revenge pornography, that is, the deliberate distribution of compromising photographs and videos of a sexual nature through social media platforms and on the Internet in general. Persons who fall victim to this practice and who have their images disseminated through social media platforms without their consent should not have to live with the consequences and be told there is little that can be done about it.

The Bill deals with the matter of consent of images and provides definitions pertaining to digital service provision that would encompass service providers and social media platforms. There is also a definition contained in the Bill based on the provisions of the Canadian criminal code that addresses the practice commonly known as upskirting.

We recognise that the Bill will need more work. It will even need an additional section because we did not include a provision for the establishment of a digital safety commissioner as to do so could have meant that the Bill would be ruled out of order for imposing a charge on the Exchequer.

I seek leave to introduce the Bill and urge the Government not to oppose it.

Is the Bill opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.

In that case, the debate is adjourned. In accordance with Standing Order 147(4), the Bill will be taken on the next day on which Private Members' business is to be taken.