Sharing intimate images without consent

It is against the law to share an intimate image of someone without their consent, or to threaten to share an intimate image of someone.

This includes sharing:

  • physically (such as showing people images contained on your camera, phone, tablet or computer)
  • electronically (online, email, social media, text message).

The penalty for these offences carries up to three years’ imprisonment.

The law gives courts the power to order a person found guilty to remove, delete or destroy the intimate images they shared or threatened to share. Failing to do what the court orders is an offence.

You should read the Criminal Code Act 1983.

Types of intimate images and photos

An intimate image can be a still or moving picture that shows:

  • a person doing a sexual act that you would not ordinarily see in public
  • a person in some other sexual manner or context, such as posing in a sexual way, or
  • the genitals, anal area or breasts of a person, either bare or covered only with underwear.

The image could be:

  • photos or videos on a mobile phone
  • photos or images on an app
  • printed photos or negatives
  • screenshots
  • photos or videos that have been photoshopped.

What is consent

Consent is when a person freely and voluntarily agrees to something.

Consent must be voluntary and ongoing. If consent is given to one activity, it does not mean consent is given to all future activities.

For example:

  • A person might share an intimate image with someone during a relationship. This does not mean the person consents to the image being shared more widely.
  • A person might consent to someone else sharing an intimate image with a third person. This does not mean they consent to it being shared with other people.
  • A person might consent to sharing an intimate image on one occasion. That does not mean they are consenting to it being shared on other occasions.
  • A person might consent to an intimate image being shared in a particular way, for example in a photographic exhibition. This does not mean they consent to it being shared in other ways, such as on Facebook with sexual comments.

Children under the age of 16

Children under 16 can't consent to an intimate image of themselves being shared. This helps to protect young people who might not be able to make good decisions about sharing intimate images.

What you should do if your image is shared

If someone shares an intimate picture of you online without your consent, you can report it to the online service it was posted on. For example, you can use the "report" button on Facebook photos and videos.

You can also report it to the Australian Government eSafety office. Find out more, including what actions you can take, at the image-based abuse section of the eSafety website.

Police may be able to assist. Read more about how to report a crime.

If you are experiencing domestic or family violence, find out how to get help.

Last updated: 20 February 2019

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