We are in the process of
preparing a few new materials ready for our round of Internet Safety Talks in East Lothian. One area that we are going to be talking
about is ‘Mobile Phones and the Law.’ Some young people don’t seem to
have a clue and it’s important that we get across the idea of Responsible Use for mobile
I thought I would share a few points with you here, but please note I don’t pretend to be a legal expert.
The main law that relates to
the inappropriate use of mobile phone cameras (or any camera) is the
Civic Government (Scotland)
Act, 1982. Under Section 52(1) of this act, any
(a) takes, or permits to be taken or makes, any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child under 18 years;
or shows such an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph;
(c) has in his possession such an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph with a view to its being distributed or shown by himself or others; or
(d) publishes or causes to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that the advertiser distributes or shows such an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph, or intends to do so,
shall be guilty of an offence under this section.
Section 52A of the Act is also important as it relates to the Possession of Photographs, Section 52A states:
(1) It is an offence for a person to have any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child under the age of 18 years in his possession.
Let me know focus on some terminology as people often become confused by this in the media.
‘takes’ – This includes downloading inappropriate images from the Internet. Think about it? You are ‘taking’ the image form somewhere else. Taking does not just mean photographing inappropriate acts.
‘make / making’ – within recent case law the word "make" covered an activity whereby a computer was used to bring into existence data stored on a computer disk. A person who downloads images is making photographs. Think about it? If you download an inappropriate image, you are ‘making’ a new one.
‘distributes’ – purposely sharing with others. This would include printing out and sharing, bluetooth or uploading to the Internet (including Social Networking Sites)
Ok, here is the scary bit for Young People, and why education in Internet responsible use is so important:
Conviction for taking, possessing or distributing indecent images qualifies the accused to be registered on the Sex Offenders’ Register.
Being placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register means you tell the police where you live, where you are going on holiday, you will have limited access to children, police can enter your house and the media are always looking for a story about you.
This is the hypothetical case study we will be using during are up-coming talks:
Stuart and Mary are at a party. They are both 15. During the excitement of the party Mary lifts up her top and her bra. Stuart thinks this is a great laugh and takes a photograph with his mobile phone.
The next day Stuart bluetooth’s the photograph to his pal Robert.
Robert thinks this is great and texts the photograph to his friends Duncan, Iain and Bruce.
Duncan – keeps the photograph on his phone.
Iain – uploads the photograph to his social networking site (eg: his Bebo, or Facebook, or Friends Reunited Page or etc……)
Bruce – tells his teacher.
So, here’s the question, ‘Who of Stuart, Robert, Duncan or Iain has committed an offence?’
And, here the answer:
Stuart – has technically committed three offences. He takes, possesses and distributes the photograph.
Robert – has technically committed four offences. He possesses and distributes the photograph three times.
Duncan – has technically committed one offence. He possesses the photograph.
Iain – has technically committed at least two offences, but probably a lot more. He possesses but then distributes the photograph on the internet. Every person that views that photograph counts as a distribution. It could also be ‘taken’ by others and stored off line.
Bruce – has technically committed one offence. He possesses the photograph BUT may have a defence, because he tells a responsible adult as soon as he receives the message.
Here is the difficult bit in the case study for young people and parents to understand.
Both children Stuart (who took the photograph) and Mary (who was in the photograph) were the same age. So why could they be breaking the law? Well, the reasons are complicated but fundamentally, ‘In Scotland the age of criminal responsibility is eight years old’ this means that according to the law children should know the difference between right and wrong at eight years old. Taking and distributing this sort of photograph is wrong and could mean that you would be placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register.
Don't forget to sign up for one of the Internet Safety Talk dates if you want to find out more information about Internet Safety and Responsible Use,