New bill could curb re­venge porn


THE Film and Pub­li­ca­tions Board is con­fi­dent vic­tims of re­venge porn will soon be able to seek re­course for leaked im­ages and videos.

The board’s as­sis­tant com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, Manala Bo­tolo, said the Films and Pub­li­ca­tions Amend­ment Bill was sit­ting be­fore the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces and would ad­dress top­ics such as re­venge pornog­ra­phy in the on­line space. It would also at­tempt to ad­dress the gap by crim­i­nal­is­ing re­venge porn.

“Once the bill is passed, it will give vic­tims the op­por­tu­nity to ap­proach the board to seek re­course,” said Bo­tolo.

Re­venge porn is whereby re­veal­ing or sex­u­ally ex­plicit im­ages or videos of a per­son is posted on the in­ter­net.

This is typ­i­cally done by a for­mer sex­ual part­ner with­out the con­sent of the sub­ject to cause them dis­tress or em­bar­rass­ment.

The most re­cent case of al­leged re­venge porn was when a for­mer Lo­tus FM ra­dio pre­sen­ter’s ex­plicit videos of her­self were al­leged to have been dis­trib­uted by an ex-col­league.

Bo­tolo said while there is no act pro­hibit­ing in­di­vid­u­als from mak­ing sex­u­ally ex­plicit videos of them­selves, the on­line space was never safe from hack­ers.

“We en­cour­age cit­i­zens to be cy­ber safe and aware of their dig­i­tal foot­print. It is a crim­i­nal of­fence for any in­di­vid­ual to share con­tent of a sex­ual na­ture with­out the con­sent of the per­son de­picted in the ma­te­rial, as it is a clear in­fringe­ment of their pri­vacy.

“In­di­vid­u­als who are caught dis­tribut­ing such con­tent, may be charged with crimen in­juria.”

A Phoenix-based at­tor­ney, who has worked on two re­venge-porn cases over the past year, said the at­tacks – aimed at em­bar­rass­ing a tar­get – had se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions.

Fam­ily units could be ru­ined or the vic­tim could re­sort to se­ri­ous mea­sures to harm him­self or her­self.

“There is un­lim­ited ac­cess to so­cial me­dia. Al­most ev­ery­one has a smart­phone nowa­days and from pre­vi­ous cases, I have no­ticed the younger gen­er­a­tion does it to be­come more pop­u­lar,” said Rashika Gree Raj.

“We are def­i­nitely mov­ing away from the tra­di­tional and con­ser­va­tive up­bring­ing,” she said, adding the at­tacks were of­ten cal­cu­lated.

In the first case in Phoenix, she said a male client, aged 17, had re­ceived an ex­plicit video from his girl­friend, who was a year younger than him.

After they broke up, the girl re­leased the video on so­cial me­dia and claimed the boy had done so to de­fame her.

“His fam­ily con­tacted me and in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed that she had leaked the video. She did this de­lib­er­ately.”

Gree Raj said if the girl was over 18, she could have faced crim­i­nal charges and a civil law­suit.

The sec­ond in­ci­dent, she said, in­volved a les­bian cou­ple from Reser­voir Hills.

Gree Raj said her client, aged 28, had sent a pic­ture of her­self to her part­ner, 26, while they were in a re­la­tion­ship. After they broke up, the ex leaked the pho­to­graph to the woman’s fam­ily.

“We in­sti­tuted ac­tion by is­su­ing a let­ter of de­mand and sum­mons for defama­tion of char­ac­ter and after ne­go­ti­a­tions, the client ac­cepted a set­tle­ment.”

So­cial me­dia ex­pert Ti­mothy Pa­day­achee said those who up­loaded and shared videos could find them­selves in hot wa­ter.

“There’s a rea­son why we say think be­fore post­ing or shar­ing any­thing on­line. The vic­tim can open a civil case against the per­son, who up­loads the video or im­age on so­cial me­dia and can also charge those who share it.

“So­cial me­dia law has in­creased its stance against the shar­ing of in­ti­mate im­ages with­out a per­son’s knowl­edge, and while peo­ple have been get­ting into trou­ble, it seems the ma­jor­ity don’t seem to learn and con­tinue to share things ir­re­spon­si­bly.”

Pa­day­achee said while some be­lieved that if they shared and deleted the post, they were safe, “they are wrong”.

“Ev­ery­thing leaves a foot­print. Po­lice can con­tact Face­book lo­cally and get in­for­ma­tion from their server, which saves ev­ery­thing. Shar­ing or post­ing these things falls un­der cy­ber crime and it’s as se­ri­ous as white col­lar crime charges.

“Peo­ple don’t re­alise how badly they messed up un­til they are sit­ting in court,” Pa­day­achee said.

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