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Sweden moves to close revenge porn loophole

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15:28 CEST+02:00
Sweden's justice minister has said Sweden needs new laws to deal with slander online, saying abuse on the internet reverberates far further than conventional attacks.

"The power of slander on the internet is many times bigger than in the old times," Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said on Wednesday, as she announced that a government-appointed investigator, Gudrun Antemar, had been tasked with compiling research and writing recommendations. The report should reach the minister's desk by early 2016. 

Ask noted that any revised laws would have to respect free speech. 

Antemar, head of the investigation, has been instructed to review several crimes - illegal threats, harassment, slander - but was also asked to look specifically at the phenomenon known as revenge porn, when a person publishes images or videos of a sexual nature or with nudity to punish the other person. 

READ ALSO: Swedish lawyers track and charge net trolls

"When one, for example, spreads violating pictures it has a very wide reach and is felt very acutely by the victim," Ask said.

Non-profit the Law and Internet Institute (Institutet för Juridik & Internet - IJI), which last month said it would pursue net trolls in court using existing laws, welcomed the review. 

"We know there are loopholes in current legislation," chairman Mårten Schultz told the TT news agency. "For example, revenge porn is one of the most disgusting ways to violate a person integrity online and it is, in some parts, legal."

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The hazy legislation means that how it is applied in court can vary considerably.

"That means the perpetrator could get lucky depending on what district court they end up in," said Schultz, a law professor at Stockholm University. 

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