Sexual Harassment via Online Image Sharing Needs Tougher Regulation: Groups

  • By Hsieh Chun-lin and Liu Tzu-hsuan / Personal Reporter, with a personal editor

Civic groups and lawmakers have called for legislative changes to protect against sexual harassment online, such as requiring intimate images to be removed from websites within 24 hours of a complaint.

A discussion about the difficulties of implementing current regulations, as well as their seemingly insufficient protections, was prompted by amendments proposed by the Executive Yuan last month to address digital sexual harassment.

The proposals have limits, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Fan Yun (范雲) said at a news conference in Taipei on Thursday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

There is no time limit for a website owner to remove an image when ordered to do so, and the police are not required to help enforce an order, she said. declared.

Additionally, education to prevent cases of digital harassment is not comprehensive enough, she said, adding that victims cannot directly apply for protective orders.

Fan said she will advocate for concerns raised by women’s groups and those targeted by online harassment, when the proposed changes are considered by the legislature.

Although the amendments include provisions regarding the “deletion of intimate images”, some of the language is unclear, New Power Party lawmaker Claire Wang (王婉諭) said, adding that a lack of oversight could lead to implementation difficulties.

The government should involve internet experts and online platform operators in its governance to ensure the implementation of appropriate regulations and mechanisms, she said.

Personnel specifically responsible for investigating cases of unauthorized use of intimate images are essential, she said, adding that cases should be regulated by the Prevention of Sexual Assault Crimes Act (性侵害犯罪防治法) and that technology should be developed to facilitate investigations.

DPP lawmaker Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) said the immediate removal of intimate images online is what victims most urgently need, but that’s not stipulated in the amendments.

Civic groups, including the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, have also called for changes to the amendments, including that the needs of victims and the difficulties faced by the police be taken seriously.

Regulations should require offenders to immediately remove footage and protect criminal evidence from leaks when a case is reported to police, they said.

Images placed on foreign servers by Taiwanese should also be governed by Taiwanese law, they said.

The groups also called for mandatory guidance for offenders who distribute another person’s intimate images, as well as a clear prohibition on copying, distributing, delivering and displaying those images.

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