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New predator laws target adults lying about their age online

Ten years ago, 15-year-old Carly Ryan was murdered by someone posing as a teenager online. Now the government has introduced laws to fight such predators.

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It could soon be illegal to lie about your age online to a minor, thanks to new laws designed to crack down on sexual predators lurking on the internet.

The laws would make it illegal for a person over the age of 18 to "intentionally misrepresent their age in online communications with a person they reasonably believe to be under 18 years of age," with the intent of meeting in the real world.

Under the proposed bill, adults face five years in prison if convicted, and up to eight years if they lie about their age with the intent of committing another criminal offence.

Speaking about the laws, Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said they would "provide police the power to intervene before predators have a chance to act, before a child is harmed."

The laws were introduced to Parliament after a big push by Sonya Ryan, the mother of 15-year-old Carly Ryan who was murdered 10 years ago by a predator posing as a teenager online.

"This law is a beautiful tribute to Carly's legacy that will give greater protection to children, teenagers and families," Sonya Ryan said.

"We have now given police and prosecutors a new weapon which they can use to intervene sooner before a child becomes a victim."

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