Privacy and new reform of the Criminal Code
Recently the Government announced “The Reform of the Criminal Code” with a draft bill driven by the Minister of Justice (D. Alberto Ruíz Gallardón). In this bill new crimes are classified, so that answers can be given in new contexts and social realities, including new technologies.
The reform, that has put a special focus on the protection of victims, highlights, as a new aspect, the regulation of the protection of rights to intimacy for the first time in Spain. A punishment of up to one year in prison could be given for the unauthorized diffusion of intimate images or videos obtained with consent from the victim but without authorization for diffusion of the material.
This point represents a great advance in our legal system given that the Criminal Code in force only penalizes the appropriation or interception of the victim’s private letters or messages. However, it does not foresee the cases in which victim supplies said material to the person that later divulges the material. This is what happened in the well-known case of the Councillor of Los Yébenes (Olvido Hormigos), whose video was divulged and uploaded on the internet, and circulated largely throughout the media.
On the other hand, it is important to highlight that punishment is not given for having obtained the images, but for the mere “disclosure”. This, nowadays, is a lot easier due to the large quantity of diffusion methods, especially those available on the internet, which is characteristized by its easy access and great diffusion.
Another change presented by the Minister of Justice affects the abuse of women through the misuse of data in order to threaten their freedom or patrimony. In this case, the punishment could be up to two years in prison, while a fine of up to twelve months will be given for violation of electronic devices imposed in order to protect victims of domestic violence. Here, in his declarations, the Minister has stated, as an example, the misuse of personal data with the objective of allowing third parties to contact the victim.
Similarly, a fine of twelve months will be given for the deactivation of electronic devices in order to control penalties and precautionary security measures with the aim of protecting women, especially those that have been victims of domestic violence.
The Reform of the Criminal Code also focuses on the fight against sexual abuse and exploitation of young people or disabled people, as well as against those that mislead young people through technological means in order to obtain pornographic images. This is an important and demanding aspect in society as it is facing an increase in child porn on the internet through services offered by social networks, such as online chat websites, file-sharing programmes, etc. With these sites it is vital that children are properly educated and informed about the risks of the internet, and the fact that the mentioned criminal acts carried out on the internet are punishable as a crime.
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