A SKIBBEREEN woman’s complaint of identity theft has been instrumental in the establishment of a new Bill and a Government-backed hotline to help people whose images have been posted online without their consent.
According to Alicia O’Sullivan, the new Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill will ensure that the first person a victim speaks to will be a professional, trained in how to deal with victims of Image-Based Sexual Abuse (IBSA).
‘This is crucial,’ she said, ‘because it will ensure that the victim is not faced with any sort of doubts or victim blaming.’
Alicia’s own disturbing experiences last April – an impersonation on Instagram by a pornography account and the manner in which the gardaí handled her initial complaint – led her to establish the Safety Over Stigma (SOS) campaign to end online harassment, abuse and victim blaming.
Almost instantly, the Minister for Justice announced the rollout of empathy training to all members of the gardaí.
In a presentation to the Oireachtas last July, Alicia and Prof Louise Crowley also recommended the setting-up of a hotline to deal with complaints.
Alicia welcomed the new legislation, saying she believed the next victim of IBSA will have better support than she did.
People who have had images of themselves misappropriated and misrepresented, without their consent, will be able to make a report using the hotline and seek assistance in having the images removed.