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MEPs unite for action to stop revenge porn

MEPs, led by Malta’s Roberta Metsola, have signed a joint declaration on revenge porn and cyberbullying.

MEPs, led by Malta’s Roberta Metsola, have signed a joint declaration on revenge porn and cyberbullying.

The majority of political groups within the European Parliament, headed by Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, have endorsed a joint declaration calling for criminal sanctions on revenge porn and cyberbullying.

Provoked by high profile cases in Malta, UK and Italy, their MEPs  have come together to launch an anti-cyberbullying awareness campaign involving private internet companies to help stop the dissemination of bullying images.

The declaration was filed under rule 136 of Parliament’s rules of procedure and was automatically inserted in the minutes with the names of its signatories. It does not, however, bind Parliament.

The signatories said that they believed that ensuring the online security and safety of citizens from cyberbullying should be an EU priority because of the increasing number of people using online social platforms, which has been accompanied by a sharp rise in bullying and harassment.

We are seeing case after case of people – young people in particular – who are blackmailed, bullied and tormented because their private photos and videos are shared without their permission,leaving them little or no recourse

This gave rise to the need for increased efforts to address the issue while striking a balance between preventing harassment and respecting freedom of speech.

While some online social platforms have signed EU anti-hate-speech legislation, more must be done to combat online harassment, particularly against women, religious and ethnic minorities, the LGBTI community and people with disabilities when this form of harassment is not yet covered by existing hate-crime legislation, they said in the declaration.

Revenge pornography, they said, had resulted in high rates of mental health issues and suicide.

They therefore called on the European Commission and European Council to encourage member states to take all necessary measures, including criminal charges where appropriate, against all forms of revenge pornography, including in cross-border cases, develop general and targeted anti-cyberbullying awareness and education programmes and further involve the private sector to combat cyberbullying and stop the dissemination of revenge pornography.

“We are seeing case after case of people – young people in particular – who are blackmailed, bullied and tormented because their private photos and videos are shared without their permission, leaving them little or no recourse. It is unacceptable,” said Dr Metsola.

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