Distributing sexually explicit images via mobile phones without consent is set to be made illegal in the Australian state of Victoria, following recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry.
Concerns have been raised in the UK about the practice, known as sexting, following a recent survey which showed that 60 per cent of teenagers had been asked for a sexual image or video.
In Victoria, MP Clem Newton-Brown is the chair of the parliament’s Law Reform Committee which made recommendations for a new law.
He said that the unauthorised sending of explicit pictures can have “very dire consequences for victims who are embarrassed and humiliated”.
The new law will make forwarding pictures to a third party illegal.
Victoria’s Attorney-General Robert Clark said the new law, “will make it an offence to intentionally distribute, or threaten to distribute, an intimate image of another person or persons without their consent”.
“This will continue to make clear that such behaviour is unacceptable and illegal”, he added.
Mr Clark said the government would increase its work with schools to educate children on the proper use of technology.
The parliamentary inquiry made 14 recommendations, 11 of which were accepted by the Victorian government.
In the UK earlier this year, Labour MP Diane Abbott highlighted the problem of sexting which she said had become “fashionable”.
In a webchat with parenting website Mumsnet, she said there is, “a very specific form of sexuality that’s being imposed, on children and adults: a porn version”.
“And this has been made worse by fast-developing technology”, she added.
The NSPCC and ChildLine conducted a survey of 450 teenagers which found that 60 per cent of them had been asked for a sexual image or video.
According to the survey, 40 per cent said they had created such content.
Of the teens who sent sexual images by text message, 58 per cent said they had sent the material to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
In 2011, the US state of Rhode Island passed a law which banned children from sending sexually explicit messages of themselves electronically.
Under the measure, anyone below the age of 18 who creates and sends a sexually inappropriate image of themselves could be charged with a “status” offence.
Such offences are acts which are only considered criminal when committed by a young person.