Online 'flashing' set to become criminal offence in Ireland

A proposed change to the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill would make online 'flashing' a criminal offence in the Republic of Ireland.

This article is about online flashing set to become a criminal offence in Ireland. In the photo, a hand holding a phone with social media apps on the screen.
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Online ‘flashing’, namely the act of sharing unsolicited explicit pictures on social media, is set to become a criminal offence under a proposed change to the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill due to be considered by the Cabinet today, October 18.

The proposed change will be introduced by Media Minister Catherine Martin, together with several other amendments to the Online Safety and Media Bill.

The bill was passed by the Seanad in July, went through the Dáil last month and is now scheduled to get to the committee stage later this month. It already includes provisions to make acts ranging from online threats to child pornography criminal offences under Irish law.

The bill also provides for the establishment of the Coimisiún na Meán, a media commission in charge of policing how websites and social media platforms deal with harmful content and ensure that the internet is a safer space for users.

The commission will establish online safety codes and websites and social media services that do not comply could be fined up to €20 million or 10% of the company’s annual turnover, which could amount to multi-million euro fines in case they fail to remove the content.

The amendment proposed by Minister Martin will add online flashing, defined in other legislation as a person sharing pictures of their genitals with the intent of causing “fear, distress or alarm to another person”, to the list of criminal offences established under the new bill.



Moreover, another amendment that will be discussed in the Cabinet will establish a system through which individuals will be able to make complaints to the media commission about harmful online content.

Such a system, proposed after it was recommended by a group of experts, is expected to initially focus on children and non-offence categories of harmful online content, including cyberbullying.

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