Wednesday, August 05, 2020
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Sharing private images without consent

It is unlawful to share private images and videos without consent

If you have discovered that someone is sharing intimate images and videos of you, the repercussions on your mental health, relationships, career and social life can be devastating. It feels embarrassing, scary and seriously life- affecting for you. 

Sharing private images and videos without your consent is a form of harassment, which can go on for ever. Posting intimate videos and sharing private images without consent or without permission is likely to fall under a number of criminal offences which relate to the sharing of intimate images and videos without consent.

The law on sharing private images

The commonly known term for the criminal act and civil wrongdoing of sharing intimate images and videos without consent is Revenge Porn. The term revenge porn was born from a vile industry of the sharing of videos and intimate images online of someone that had jilted them as revenge. Revenge porn isn't necessarily conducted by someone that is known to you. The sharing of intimate images online (and/or videos) are often posted by strangers that you may never have met, who may have hacked into one of your online private accounts to obtain the images and then shared them across the internet.

There are thousands and thousands of dedicated user-led revenge porn sites that encourage users to the sharing of intimate images and videos online and then spur all of their users on to rate the unauthorised images of you and encourage invitations for lewd and crude comments.

Without consenting to having intimate images and videos being shared and with superimposing, people are becoming porn stars without even knowing it and by having no control over this ever-increasing harassment can make you wonder who could possibly offer comprehensive legal advice on the removal of images online. It is such a serious, escalating and complex situation.

What is the difference between revenge porn and harassment

On the face of it, revenge porn and harassment are difference offences. However, it is inevitable that when you become a victim to revenge porn, you are at the same time a victim to online harassment. 

Furthermore, the law says that it is a defence to the offence of revenge porn, for the offender to only show the images to the victim so whilst there is no further distribution of the pornographic or intimate images, the revenge porn offence cannot be committed. However, the offender, by showing the private images to the victim, is potentially committing an act of harassment, whereby causing the victim to feel harassed and distressed. For the victim, the  knowledge that the offender has in his possession intimate images of her, which could at one point in the future become public, is enough to cause harassment. 

Unfortunately, the online harassment may not even have stopped there. You, as a victim of revenge porn may have been subjected to further harassment by others that visit the sites, as they start to make derogatory comments and false statements about you and then they start the sharing of intimate images online, spreading the harassment further. Before long, your image or video that you didn't consent to anyone taking from you in the first place, is all over the internet, as well as untrue formulated opinions about you and comments about you physically and false accusations about you, as though you were known to any of the posters. Many have users encouraging others to find more images of you or post more information about you, that may be false. The image may have your face superimposed on a naked body along with made up false statements posted by an online troll. 

Some perpetrators could have taken it further and posted your image on mainstream porn sites with links to personal information about you and then sent those links to your friends, family and employers and social media accounts or by creating banner advertisements with your intimate image online.

Not only may the harassment involve the non-consensual sharing of intimate images and videos of you but the online harasser(s) may also be doxing you and may have posted personal information about you (true or untrue or embellished). 

What is the advice for victims of revenge porn

Reporting the 'sharing private images without consent' to social media platforms or websites might be sufficient to remove an immediate threat of further dissemination of the images. You may also report the sharing of intimate images and videos online to the police. The police might be helpful but occasionally police officers are lacking the required knowledge and understanding of the issues involved of the methodologies that are used to disseminate the images. The police might also find it too challenging to handle the matter due to lack of evidence the directly link a defendant to the sharing of the intimate images. You may also try and approach so called online removal companies who offer internet removal services. These companies are usually unaccountable and may end up causing you more damage than help.

If this has happened to you, you will wonder, foremost, if and how you can get all of the intimate images and videos be taken down from the internet as soon as possible. The effects and implications that having your intimate image and/or videos online can feel all encompassing. You know that acting fast is paramount to reducing the sharing of the nonconsensual images but you have already spent hours and days contacting platforms and websites, only to receive robotic responses or for images to reappear. It feels like the situation is so out of control that maybe there isn't anything that can be done about it.

You want to hide but you can't hide. It is exasperating and you are most likely wondering if you will ever get help with this very serious online harassment matter. 

Are there lawyers who specialise in helping victims of revenge porn and harassment

There are only a few lawyers who specialise in social media and internet law. Our law firm does only that. We know what to do to remove  private images from the internet and we understand the support that you might require. Helping and supporting individuals who are victims of online harassment and tracking down and making perpetrators accountable is what we do, day in and day out.

Our goal is to support you in getting back in control of their lives and at the same time clean up the internet of any private information about you. We will always look to create legally binding long term solutions so that you will not need to keep being concerned about this matter in the future. 

Feel free to call our office and speak to one of our online harassment lawyers today. We know exactly what to do to get going on clearing the internet of all the horrific and malicious content that was posted without your consent.  Together we will develop tight strategies to help us remove the material and track down the perpetrators. 

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