Authorities will be able to prosecute those lying about their age to minors online and intervene before a predator can act under new legislation introduced by the Federal Government.
Dubbed “Carly’s Law”, the Government said the Criminal Code Amendment (Protecting Minors Online) Bill, would “target online predators preparing or planning to cause harm to, procure, or engage in sexual activity with a child”.
It would also target those who misrepresented their age, with offenders facing 10 years’ imprisonment.
The proposed legislation follows a decade-long campaign by Sonya Ryan, whose 15-year-old daughter, Carly, was murdered in 2007 by a man posing as a teenager online.
Gary Newman, who was 50, had pretended to be a teenage musician from Melbourne for more than a year before he met Carly in person, saying he was the musician’s father.
Newman became angry when Carly rejected him but later managed to persuade her to meet him again at Port Elliot, South Australia, where he bashed her, pushed her face into the sand, suffocated her and threw her into the water to drown.
Her mother later founded the Carly Ryan Foundation — devoted to promoting internet safety and supporting victims.
The foundation has also lobbied hard for new laws to prevent adults from using fake names and ages to contact minors online, with SA senator Nick Xenophon previously introducing Carly’s Law legislation to Parliament.
Ms Ryan said the proposed legislation had been a long time coming.
“It’s incredibly moving for me,” she said.
“I just think, gosh, imagine what Carly would say, what she would think about a law being enacted that has her name attached to it to protect innocent kids?
“It’s difficult for me to find the words to explain what that means to me.”