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Revenge Porn

The term "revenge porn" is rejected by activists for implying the victim has done something wrong.[3] It most commonly refers to the uploading of sexually explicit material to the Internet to humiliate and intimidate a subject who has broken off a relationship.[1] The term is also often misused to describe non-revenge scenarios, including nonconsensual pornography distributed by hackers or by individuals seeking profit or notoriety[4][5] (more properly referred to by the terms non-consensual intimate imagery, NCII, or image-based sexual abuse, IBSA). The images are usually accompanied by sufficient information to identify the pictured individual (a process known as doxing), typically names and locations, and can include risqué comments, links to social media profiles, home addresses, and workplaces.[6][7] In some cases victims are exposed to workplace discrimination, cyber-stalking or physical attack. Some companies search the Internet for potential sources of bad publicity, resulting in many victims of revenge porn losing their jobs and finding themselves effectively unhirable.[8] Some academics argue that the term "revenge porn" should not be used, and instead that it should be referred to as "image-based sexual abuse."[9]

Revenge Porn

Two decades later, Italian researcher Sergio Messina identified "realcore pornography", a new genre consisting of images and videos of ex-girlfriends distributed through Usenet groups.[33] In 2008, amateur porn aggregator XTube began receiving complaints that pornographic content had been posted without subjects' consent. Several sites began staging consensual pornography to resemble revenge porn, as well as hosting "authentic" user-submitted content.[33][34]

Revenge porn began garnering international media attention when Hunter Moore launched the website IsAnyoneUp in 2010.[35] The site featured user-submitted pornography,[35] and was one of the first sites to adopt the model initiated by Beaver Hunt: IsAnyoneUp often included identifying information, such as the subjects' names, employers, addresses and links to social networking profiles.[35] Activist Charlotte Laws was the first person to speak out against Moore and one of the first people to publicly support revenge porn victims. This prompted backlash from some of Moore's devotees, who stalked Laws and sent her death threats.[36] Laws became known around the world as the "Erin Brockovich of revenge porn"[37] and she was one of the first activists to meet with legislators in an effort to get laws passed against revenge porn.[38]

In June 2015, Google announced it would remove links to revenge porn on request.[42] Microsoft followed suit in July.[43] Both have placed forms on-line for victims to complete.[44][45] Together the two organizations account for nearly 90% of the internet search market in the U.S.[46]

The term "revenge porn" is controversial because those who share images without permission may be motivated by profit, notoriety, entertainment, or other goals besides revenge; and because not all visual depictions of nudity or sexual activity are pornographic.[47]

The website was founded by Holly Jacobs, a revenge porn victim, to campaign for the criminalization of revenge porn, which it considered a form of sexual abuse.[48][49] Jacobs also founded the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), a nonprofit organization that seeks to challenge cyber harassment. Danielle Citron, known for her discourse on cyber harassment as a civil rights issue, the vice-president of the CCRI.[50][51] Mary Anne Franks, CCRI's president and Legislative & Tech Policy Director, has been heavily involved with legislative and policy efforts to combat revenge porn.[52][50] Dr. Laura Hilly and Kira Allmann of the Oxford Human Rights Hub have characterized revenge porn as a kind of gendered hate speech designed to silence women. An article of theirs argues that this stifling of free expression is often ignored in debates over revenge porn.[53] Dr. Charlotte Laws, often called "the Erin Brockovich of revenge porn", was a CCRI board member until 2016. She is perhaps the first victims' advocate and one of the first to meet with elected officials in an effort to get legislation passed against nonconsensual pornography.[54]

While not solely focused on revenge porn, the non-profit organization Without My Consent provided legal resources related to it and lobbies to protect the privacy and free speech rights of online harassment victims.[56] In 2019,Without My Consent ceased operating and transferred to CCRI all of the comprehensive resources it had developed to aid victims of online abuse.[57] Since 2012, there has also been a website Women Against Revenge Porn, calling itself "not an organization or a business", which has been cited as an advocacy group for people exposed in revenge porn.[58] In late 2014, Elisa D'Amico and David Bateman, partners at the law firm K&L Gates, launched the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project (CCRLP), a project offering free legal help to victims of revenge porn.[59][60]

To better facilitate the introduction of relevant legislation, some anti-revenge porn activists have called upon others in their community to use gender-neutral language more often when discussing the issue.[61] The term "revenge porn" itself has also come under fire. The CCRI for instance prefers the term "nonconsensual pornography".[62] In analogy with "child sexual abuse images" being the preferred term for child pornography, McGlynn and Rackley proposed "image-based sexual abuse".[63] Along with journalist Sarah Jeong, they have argued that it is harmful to associate revenge porn with pornography which revolves around consent. Jeong also considers it a mistake for activists to focus on revenge porn itself as the main problem, rather than the underlying culture which leads to its subjects being socially ostracized.[64]

Laws banning revenge porn have been slow to emerge.[69] Contributing factors include a lack of understanding about the gravity of the problem, free speech concerns,[70] belief that existing law provides adequate protection,[70] a lack of care, historically, for women's issues, and "misunderstandings of First Amendment doctrine" (Citron & Franks).[69][71] The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have drawn attention to the implications for free speech if legislation is too broad.[72][73][74][75]

One concern with revenge porn laws is that they may not be tailored narrowly enough to satisfy the strict scrutiny applicable to content-based restrictions on speech. Prohibition of revenge porn may not be constitutional according to the Miller v. California decision if the porn does not categorically appeal to the prurient interest; if it is not, in itself, patently offensive; or if it has literary or political value.[76]

In South Korea the distribution of revenge porn is punishable by up to three years' imprisonment or by a fine of up to 5 million South Korean won. If the subject is filmed illicitly the penalty is up to ten years in prison or a fine of up to 10 million won ($8,900; 6,900). The use of hidden cameras for illicitly filming people, known as "molka",[82] is widespread in the country and in 2018 more than 6,000 incidents of spy-cam porn were being reported to the police annually, with only 2% of reported cases leading to a prison sentence. The website specialised in the publishing of spy-cam porn until it was banned in 2016 following a campaign against it. Some of those depicted had committed suicide. In May 2018, ten thousand women demonstrated in Seoul demanding increased official action against digital sex crime. In October 2018 a petition of over 200,000 signatories called for increased punishment for the possession of revenge porn, regardless of whether it had been distributed.[83][84][85][86]

Israel responded quickly to public pressure in January 2014 and passed a law making sharing sexually explicit videos without the consent of the pictured individual punishable by up to five years in prison.[87] After Israel's bill was passed, it was widely predicted that nearby countries such as Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia would not introduce similar bills as they have been slow to adopt legislation against sexual harassment in general.[88] However, some commentators have suggested that victims could find recourse in existing laws against pornography, indecency, defamation and invasion of privacy.[89]

Singapore passed the Criminal Law Reform Act on 6 May 2019, which includes the criminalisation of revenge porn. Penalties include a jail term of up to five years with fines and caning as a sentencing option. If the crime is committed against a victim under 14 years of age, a mandatory jail term will be imposed.[11] The Act took effect on 1 January 2020.[90]

Tort, privacy, copyright, and criminal laws offer remedies against people who submit revenge porn.[135][136] 48 states have laws against revenge porn as of July 2021.[13]For example, New Jersey law prohibits both the capture and the distribution of sexually explicit photographs and films by any person, "knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so" and without the subjects' consent.[137] The law was used to prosecute Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers student who distributed webcam footage of his roommate Tyler Clementi engaging in sexual activity, after which Clementi killed himself.[138] The law has also been used to prosecute several men who allegedly distributed revenge porn of their ex-girlfriends.[139]

As of October 1, 2022, a new section of the US Federal Code, 15 U.S.C. 6851 Civil action relating to disclosure of intimate images, went into effect. This was passed via Section 1309 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 and amended the Violence Against Women Act, allowing victims of revenge porn to file civil suits against those who released the materials.[142][143] Victims may sue for up to US$150,000 in actual damages as well as legal fees; restraining orders and injunctions may also be issued to temporarily or permanently halt any further distribution or disclosure.[144] It is the first Federal law concerning revenge porn and helps address the patchwork of state laws in effect at the time of its passage.[145] The burden of bringing such a suit is still on the victim and the code does not formally criminalize the release of revenge porn. Communications platforms, including websites, would be liable if they solicited such material or if they deal predominantly in revenge porn.[146] Importantly, the legal code includes specific wording which holds that a victim's allowance of such materials to be created and any instances where the victim shared that material with specific individuals do not imply wholesale consent to share the material with any other individuals, two commonly anticipated defenses which defendants may raise.[144][142] 041b061a72


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