Catfishing to be banned under Irish senator’s proposed law

Catfishing to be banned under Irish senator's proposed law

Catfishing — the practice of using fake photos on social media or dating apps to lure people into a relationship on false pretences — would become a criminal offence in Ireland under a proposed bill.

Fianna Fáil senator Lisa Chambers, whose own photos were stolen and used on a dating app, told the Irish Independent that new legislation would put pressure on app operators to prevent the practice and support victims.

Her proposal for a bill, which is currently being developed in conjunction with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, will most likely ban catfishing through an amendment to the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Acts.

Ms Chambers said: “I think with catfishing, people might think that it’s only harmless ‘messing’ online. But you can absolutely devastate somebody emotionally, psychologically, financially. You can really, really harm a person, even if it’s not in a physical way.

“There’s a clear gap in our legislation because we’re still catching up with the online space.”

She said social media and dating app operators were reluctant to provide information to victims, and legal action is “extremely costly and not really accessible to the average person”.

Ms Chambers said: “If gardaí had powers to actually investigate, they could make a request to the social media company and actually get access to the data itself.”

Share icon
Share this article: