Revenge porn penalties proposed: 'They should do time over it'

Robyn Night endured 'deeply disturbing' acts of revenge from her former partner Ryan Kotynski. Photo: Jorge Branco

Robyn Night endured 'deeply disturbing' acts of revenge from her former partner Ryan Kotynski. Photo: Jorge Branco

For four years, Robyn Night went through hell as dozens of random men turned up to her house expecting sex, invited by her former boyfriend posing as her online.

Her fake online personas said she was an "extreme no limit slave pig" with "no rights whatsoever", with some even telling men to "come rape me".

As police finally tracked and charged Ryan Kotynski, 42, for a "deeply disturbing" act of revenge, she resolved to do what she could to make sure no one would go through the same thing again.

Robyn Night, pictured with her husband River, welcomes the government's proposal. Photo: Robert Shakespeare

Robyn Night, pictured with her husband River, welcomes the government's proposal. Photo: Robert Shakespeare

The Queensland woman had almost given up hope that a growing push for national revenge porn laws, which she began publicly advocating for, was going anywhere when the news she had been waiting for arrived on Saturday.

The Turnbull government is considering action, 15 months on from a Senate committee's recommendation that the growing phenomenon should be criminalised nationally.

Signs and security put up by Robyn Night and her husband, River, in response to dozens of visits from men expecting sex Photo: Supplied

Signs and security put up by Robyn Night and her husband, River, in response to dozens of visits from men expecting sex Photo: Supplied

As early as next year, those caught sharing intimate images of others without their consent could face civil penalties, if the plans go ahead.

"I guess because it's taken such a long time since the Senate inquiry, because there were recommendations and obviously and the government have kind of really been lagging on it (I had almost given up)," Ms Night said.

"So it's good to see that it's still there in people's minds and people are still pushing for it."

The proposed civil penalties including injunctions, infringement notices, formal warnings take-down notices and enforceable undertakings.

Like with cyberbullying, the eSafety Commissioner could be given extra powers to investigate complaints under the plan, detailed in a discussion paper on Saturday.

Ms Night, whose own ordeal would not have been captured by the proposed legislation, welcomed the proposal but said she still hoped for harsher penalties.

"I think that anybody that engages in it should actually do time over (in jail) it," she said.

"I don't think that an infringement notice or anything like that is going to work.

"It needs to be something serious so that people know that it is serious because it's going to happen more."

She struggled for years to get police to listen to her complaints of fake adult website profiles. Kotynski denied the worst of it but a judge said she saw little difference between authoring the content and allowing it to be made.

When police finally acted, they ran into their own roadblocks trying to get the confronting content, including photoshopped images of Ms Night in explicit positions, taken down.

Minister for Women Michaelia Cash noted victims generally wanted the images taken down as quickly as possible.

"By also penalising perpetrators and the sites which host this content, we are sending a strong message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated," she said, in a joint statement with Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.

The Turnbull government is seeking feedback until June 30, with legislation to be in place by the end of the year.

The Senate committee, chaired by independent senator Glenn Lazarus, had identified only a "patchwork protection" against revenge porn, with laws in Victoria and South Australia.

Labor MPs Tim Watts and Terri Butler last year introduced a private member's bill that would impose a five-year maximum prison sentence on revenge porn website operators.

- With AAP

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