The Fight Against Revenge Porn

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The fight against revenge porn: one step forward, two steps back

The war against ‘revenge porn’ is in full swing; and rightly so. The act is so reprehensible it’s beyond the realm of most rational people’s comprehension. If you’re not familiar with this regrettable trend, revenge porn is when lowlife bottom-feeder losers publish intimate and/or sexually explicit images of their former partners online, in public, without their consent.

It’s shocking how many people have been affected. Two Facebook friends of mine came forward with their stories when they knew I was researching this topic. One friend told me how she lost her virginity whilst away on holiday. The boy in question secretly filmed the act.

She felt incredibly violated but had the guts to call him out on it. He grovelled for her forgiveness, but the fact that he even thought to secretly film my friend losing her virginity and share the content online…well it makes me want to throw up quite frankly. Most revenge porn victims don’t get an apology. In fact, usually their naked bodies and what they thought were private, intimate moments are plastered online for the entire world to see, forever.

Another Facebook friend of mine, this time a man, admitted that his ex posted a photo of his private parts on an infamous revenge porn website (the name of which I will not share to avoid providing these useless sods with free publicity). His personal information including his full name, phone number, address, social media account details and more, was published alongside his nude picture. He had to deal with numerous unsolicited, creepy sexual advances from strangers. And his picture and personal details made their way around the international webs. What’s more, the links are still active and he cannot find a way to remove them. His family, friends and even some work colleagues have seen it. He isn’t hung up on it anymore and now it’s just something he has to accept and learn to live with. Nonetheless, he acknowledges it was a massive violation of his rights, his privacy, his body. Revenge Porn

Advocacy groups have referred to this kind of online assault as, “non-consensual pornography.” Thankfully, moves are now being made and laws being passed to stamp it out. But do they go far enough?

New Zealand leads Australia in the fight against revenge porn. Pending changes to New Zealand’s Privacy Act mean victims will soon be eligible for up to $200,000 in compensation. In Australia, Victoria is the only state that has specific revenge porn laws. Offenders can face up to two years in jail. However, in other states, victims are forced to depend on outdated legislation that fails to address a modern, internet-born crime.

Overseas, laws addressing revenge porn exist in parts of the United States including California, Texas and Utah. Scotland, Ireland, Britain and Wales are also considering similar laws. But as Dr Nicole Henry, author of Rape Justice: Behind the Realm of Law, explains, “Australia’s current laws were not designed to deal with the harm caused by the publication and sharing of intimate images by everyday individuals.”

Countless sites are closing down and Google has removed revenge porn from its search results. However, it’s still alive and well on the dark web. Nonetheless, many owners and hosts of revenge porn websites have already been caught and prosecuted. The question is – are these criminals being punished for the right reasons? Kevin Bollaert, 28, for example, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on 21 counts of identity theft and six counts of extortion. However he wasn’t punished for running one of the most vindictive revenge porn websites on earth. The laws just aren’t in place for prosecutors to do so.

People should be able to consensually share their bodies and photos with whoever they like, without fearing that intimate moments will come back to haunt them. But before appropriate legislation is created, what can we do to reduce the prevalence of revenge porn?

  1. Educate yourself and those around you about the issue
  2. Talk to people; explain why revenge porn is in no way cool
  3. If you have any psychotic, misogynist/misandrist ex-lovers, delete all your communications with them – emails with attachments, old text messages, everything in the ‘cloud’, empty that recycle bin too!
  4. Add passwords to EVERYTHING
  5. Consistently update software, firewalls, operating systems and antivirus software
  6. Watch for blinking – if your screen is flashing, your skype session flickering or lighting up for brief or extended periods when not in use – something’s up
  7. Turn off your machines when you’re not using them
  8. Put covers on your webcams
  9. Stay away from dodgy websites – illegal download and streaming sites can often download applications that can remotely access your computer.
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