Online actions have real world consequences

A recent decision of the NSW Local Court (equivalent to the Magistrates Court in Queensland) has resulted in a man being sentenced to six months’ jail for putting nude pictures of his former girlfriend on Facebook.

The NSW District Court upheld the decision (amending the home detention sentence to a suspended sentence), making this the first ‘Facebook’ jail sentence in Australia.

Ravshan Usmanov had posted six pictures nude pictures of his former girlfriend to his Facebook page in October last year to ‘hurt her’ following their break up. When he refused to remove them, his former girlfriend contacted the police.

In sentencing Mr Usmanov, the Deputy-Chief Magistrate said the victim suffered ‘embarrassment, humiliation and anxiety at not only the viewing of the images by persons who are known to her but also the prospect of viewing by those who are not.’ She further stated that the sentence was intended to deter both the offender and the community generally from committing similar crimes.

Despite current privacy laws not permitting people to take action for the invasion of their privacy through the internet, this case shows that convictions may nonetheless be given for online harassment and indecent publication.