The evidence provided to the committee during this inquiry indicates that sexting has become a regular activity for many minors (young people aged under 18 years). The emergence of new technologies has facilitated the creation and transmission of sexual content through electronic media.
Much of this activity takes place between consenting young people and is therefore relatively benign. However, in some instances, sexting activities are coercive, exploitative or undertaken with malicious intent. It was argued by many submitters that the current legislative framework requires review to ensure that consensual sexting is not captured by those laws targeting child pornography. Evidence was also received which supported the introduction of changes to effectively address non-consensual sexting.
The committee considers that the evidence it received demonstrated the serious and complex nature of sexting by minors. However, given the short timeframe in which it has had to undertake this inquiry, the committee was unable to fully explore all the issues raised in the evidence. In particular, the committee considers that the suggestions made in relation to changes to Commonwealth laws including amendments to the child pornography laws and the introduction of a new offence for non-consensual sexting require further, in-depth consideration.
In addition, some submitters called for the creation of a national digital communications tribunal. The committee considers that further work is necessary to determine whether such a body could effectively provide access to remedies other than those that are already available under the current regulatory framework.
The committee therefore considers that an inquiry into options for addressing the issue of sexting by minors be re-referred by the Senate in the 44th Parliament in order to investigate and deliberate further on the matters raised in evidence.The report quotes a submission by Bruce Arnold and Benjamin Smith.