Irish Examiner View: Punishment for breach of trust

Intimate images online.
Irish Examiner View: Punishment for breach of trust

Justice Minister Helen McEntee will bring a memo to Cabinet this week which may lead to legislation that will make it a criminal offence to distribute or publish intimate images.

One of the ways hindsight might be chastening is how it can show how klunky, how off-the-mark language can be. 

Nobody, not anyone with a shred of sense at least, would bring a garment to the fashion world today and call it “hot pants”. Sensibilities have shifted and the tacit implication in that tag would invite commercial oblivion. 

Another old phrase, though more relevant than ever, has fallen into disuse. That barrier to understanding long ago described as “the generation gap” has become a generation chasm. 

Even those around long enough to remember the glow around the 1987 launch of U2’s Joshua Tree — recent or ancient history, depending on your age — are flummoxed that laws that might imprison offenders if they, without authorisation, publish or share intimate images online are necessary. 

Justice Minister Helen McEntee will bring a memo to Cabinet this week which may lead to legislation that will make it a criminal offence to distribute or publish intimate images without the consent of the person photographed or filmed, with the intention to cause the individual harm. 

Sentences of up to seven years are envisioned for what is essentially a cruel breach of trust.

In simpler times, younger people were warned they were never more than six feet away from a rat. That old myth could easily be used today to describe our proximity to mobile phones. 

As we leave our digital footprints and retain access to the world in our pocket, great caution is required. Those who abuse deeply personal trust for 'likes', revenge or simply their own amusement, should expect to be punished.

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