Behind the UK’s New Revenge Porn Law

This week legislators in the United Kingdom added a strong arrow to the quiver of prosecutors trying Revenge Porn cases – a penalty of two years in jail.

revenge porn lawTo be clear, Revenge Porn was already technically illegal in the UK, as prosecutors had been able to try cases under existing obscenity or harassment laws. The new statute gives prosecutors more specific power, and access to stricter penalties. The law covers people who share intimate images or video only, not those who receive them.

What we like about the new law:

Sharing/posting images must be intended to cause distress – Intent is important here, but difficult to prove, although it should be clear in most cases that a jilted ex had intent to cause distress in mind.

No free passes given – At least one reason such a law doesn’t exist in the U.S. is the issue of who owns the photo. If I send my mate a picture voluntarily, she then owns it, and presumably can do anything she wants with it. In the UK under the new law, that is no longer true.

Sharing is defined broadly – The law covers not just pictures or video posted publicly to social media sites, but also content sent to other users via text message or other medium, including showing someone a picture.

What is not clear is whether the law is intended to cover pictures or video of celebrities, as happened widely last year in the case of “The Fappening”. It is pretty obvious that those online leaks were not motivated by revenge or intent to distress.

There is still a lot of work to do in the U.S. to create appropriate national laws, but good parenting can go a long way to ensuring that your family doesn’t fall victim to Revenge Porn.

 

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