The Relentless Rise of Revenge Porn

revenge pornRevenge porn, where ex-partners post nude photographs or videos online has become an ugly epidemic. Anisha Vore, 24, from New Jersey, is pleased that her ex-boyfriend got six months in jail in recognition of the great harm done by this betrayal of private shared moments. Pictures she sent to him, in trust and in love, appeared on over 200 sites, and she fears for her future prospects, especially in the job market.

Anisha and her ex had been dating for ten years and their break-up was amicable. These factors contributed to her confusion and sense of shock when she found he had gone ahead and put the pictures up. She stopped attending school for eighteen months and was afraid to leave home.

Some charities are now calling the prevalence of this type of revenge behaviour an “internet crisis” and say they are getting more and more calls for help from those who have been victims of the trend. Helplines have seen an exceptional rise in calls over the past twelve months.

The term “revenge porn” was first used in the 1980s when it referred specifically to a print magazine called Beaver Hunt. Readers sent in photographs of naked women without the subject’s permission. The use of the term is much more widespread now as it refers to all sexually explicit material shared online without the consent of the female or male it represents. With facial recognition technology, anonymity is difficult to maintain, even more so, when personal details such as name, phone number, job title, email address and other identifying features are also published.

Several US states have acted to make revenge porn illegal. New Jersey, where Anisha got her justice, Utah, California and Texas have been the first to lead the way in treating revenge porn as a crime. The non-consensual abuse gets headlines when it involves the rich and famous, but many ordinary people are also badly affected. New York City also has plans to bring in legislation. Ed Braunstein, an assemblyman from Queens, is leading a campaign to tackle revenge porn. He fears the problem will only get worse and that the threat of jail is the only way to stop “people sick enough to commit this kind of crime.”

A Brooklyn lawyer has even set up practice specifically to take on revenge porn cases and she has been amazed by the response. Carrie Goldberg has been approached by people of all ages ranging from 13 to 40. With sexting now a common habit, she sees that more and more people are going to need protection from the law

In January two Californian men were arrested for hacking into emails to steal nude pictures and then using them on their revenge porn website called IsAnyoneUp.com. They were charged with aggravated identity theft, conspiracy and unauthorised access to protected computers among other charges. Hunter Moore, sometimes called the “most hated man on the internet” and Charles Evens were both indicted on 15 counts.

In the UK more than one offense has to be committed before any legal action can be considered, in line with the harassment laws. By then, it is often too late. Like many issues involving the internet, the law is playing catch-up as it tries to adapt to the ramifications of such actions.

It is extremely difficult the pinpoint the exact extent of the problem. Many victims, shamed and humiliated, do not know that they can come forward and ask for help from anyone, and it is not clear who to turn to. Proper guidelines are urgently required to deal with this onslaught of “virtual rape.”

Revenge porn is rising and those who perpetrate it can still only be prosecuted in a handful of US states.

By Kate Henderson

Sources:
ITProPortal
BBC Newsbeat
TIME

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