Revenge Pornography

Revenge Pornography

Revenge Pornography is the sharing of private, sexual imagery, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. The images are sometimes accompanied by personal information about the person , including their full name, address and links to their social media profiles.

The offence applies both online and offline and to images which are:

  • shared electronically
  • uploading images on the internet
  • shared by text
  • shared by e-mail
  • Shown to someone as a physical or electronic image.

Images can be posted on social media or blogs, dating sites, pornographic sites, or websites which have been deliberately set up to host this content. Pretty much any site which hosts photos or video can contain it, along with message boards and chat rooms, where users can exchange pictures.

In October 2014 an amendment made to the Criminal Justice Bill stated, “It shall be an offence for a person to publish a private sexual image of another identifiable person without their consent where this disclosure causes distress to the person who is the subject of the image.”

There are also several other criminal acts which this behaviour may fall under: the Malicious Communications Act, and the Stalking and Harassment Act could be utilised, both of which carry a possible prison sentence. For the harassment element to apply the behaviour needs to be a repeated act, for example replicating the images on numerous sites or reposting over a period of time.

Yes. As this is a fairly new offence, it is helpful to be prepared before reporting to the police. Evidence is essential, keep screenshots of any posts, especially any of a threatening nature, and those sent privately. Ensure you include time and dates of any offensive messages. Don’t retaliate or engage in dialogue with the perpetrator. Any harassment, online abuse, extortion, or threat to post your intimate images is against the law.

Depending on where the content is hosted you might be able to request that the site remove it. Most social networks don’t allow nudity on their sites, and many UK adult sites only allow content uploaded with consent.
You may be able to request that the search engine which holds the image remove it, in the first instance Google, Yahoo and Bing all have tools which enable you to remove search listings in your name. Google have also now allowed a “right to be forgotten” rule, which means that you can ask for actual content to be deleted, not just the references to your name. This only applies for content hosted in the EU.