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Fighting The Tide of Revenge Porn

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Newspapers have recently highlighted the meteoric rise in the latest social media trend to hit the internet – revenge porn.

This phenomenon, where former partners upload sexually explicit material of their ex to websites without their permission, has increased enormously in the last twelve months according to charities The National Stalking Helpline, Women's Aid and the UK Safer Internet Centre.

This worrying development has campaigners clamouring for new laws to ban the practice, such as those introduced in US states such as California in 2013, and prevent this form of online abuse escalating further. Whether new laws will arrive on these shores soon remains to be seen.

In the meantime, victims may need to look at existing harassment legislation or possible civil remedies to prevent it from happening or to claim compensation where it has already taken place.

How Serious is this Issue?

The rise of smart phone cameras and instant uploading has created a world of opportunity to share photographs and other images at the touch of a screen. That couples might want to share intimate pictures is perhaps understandable but the potentially far-reach consequences can be lost in the heat of the moment.

Vengeful ex-partners have been known to post images along with personal details such as phone numbers and addresses to so-called revenge porn websites. The humiliation faced by the individuals affected can be just one of the many unfortunate consequences. Victims have been deluged with emails, subjected to online abuse and even taken their own lives after finding their reputations trashed in this manner.

The ever increasing use of smart phones and social media means that the problem is only likely to get worse.

What Can be Done to Help Victims?

After suffering from such terrible humiliation, many victims are likely to need personal and emotional support. Tackling the source of the problem should also be considered though. In extreme cases there may be recourse to the criminal law, for example under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. In these cases victims should initially report their experiences to the police.

In cases where malicious activities have caused damage to a person’s reputation or disrupted their lives in other ways, the person may be able to claim against the individual who posted the offending content or even the websites responsible for hosting it. It may also be possible to consider claims for damages for breaches of confidentiality and obtain injunctions to prevent or remove offending material from websites.

Where victims suffer from bullying or harassment in the workplace, in certain circumstances they may also have a claim under the Equality Act 2010.

For specialist advice contact Peter Gourri today by email PGourri@rollingsons.co.uk or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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