Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Law)

First Supervisor

Professor Joan Squelch

Second Supervisor

Associate Professor Joseph Fernandez


The online publication of images of children and their subsequent use has the potential to cause harm to a child who is a subject of such an image. Indeed, the publication and distribution of photographs or video clips has been found to be one of the most impactful forms of bullying.1 Even outside a cyberbullying context, however, this thesis argues that two important aspects of a child’s social and emotional development — namely their selfesteem and the development of relationships — can be harmed by the unwanted online publication or subsequent use of an image of that child. In particular, this thesis argues that an image subject can be harmed by the online publication of an image or its use even

where the publication or use is not ill‐intentioned and regardless of whether or not the image can be described, objectively, as harmful. In view of this, the thesis examines the

extent to which the current Australian legal framework, as well as existing social norms, the architecture of the internet and the market, are sufficient to address the problem of the unwanted online posting of an image of a child or its subsequent use. After concluding that the current status quo does not sufficiently address the problem, and having argued

that Australia’s commitments to children’s rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges it to do more, the thesis argues that Australian law should be reformed to give children greater control over their image in the online environment than they currently enjoy. Possible legal responses that would give children greater control over their image are then considered and evaluated, and one particular response is recommended. The need for further research and for a multi‐faceted approach to the problem highlighted in this thesis is identified.

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