Congresswoman Speier, Fellow Members of Congress Take on Nonconsensual Pornography, AKA Revenge Porn
July 14, 2016
iversity of California, Irvine School of Law: “The Intimate Privacy Protection Act needs to be passed by Congress to deal with a serious problem that has arisen with the development of the internet and social media: posting, without consent, of nude photographs and videos of sexual activity. Revenge porn has proliferated. There is no First Amendment problem with this bill. The First Amendment does not protect a right to invade a person’s privacy by publicizing, without consent, nude photographs or videos of sexual activity.”
Anisha Vora, nonconsensual pornography survivor: “After being a victim of nonconsensual pornography, I was always paranoid and had a fear for what could happen. After my ex-boyfriend posted intimate photographs of myself on numerous websites, resulting in them expanding to over 3,000 links, I knew my family and I were no longer safe. With strangers approaching me in public and online, and even attacking me in my own home, I decided to fight back. By passing a federal bill, other victims will be able to get justice, feel safe, and avoid some of the trauma and anguish that so many of us have already suffered.”
Erin Egan, Vice President of US Public Policy for Facebook: “Using intimate content to intentionally shame, embarrass or control someone is abhorrent – that’s why Facebook supports efforts like Congresswoman Speier’s to outlaw this practice. States around the country have passed legislation to criminalize the nonconsensual sharing of intimate images for the purpose of causing emotional distress. We proudly join consumer and safety advocates in pushing for the same at the federal level.”
Amanda Faulkner, US Public Policy Manager, Twitter: "The unauthorized distribution of intimate content is a form of abuse and something that is not tolerated on Twitter. We're glad to see Rep. Speier and so many of our safety partners taking the lead on this important issue, and we're proud to stand with them in support of this legislation."
Victims’ Rights Attorney Carrie Goldberg: “At last count, my law firm has dealt with 919 sexually graphic images and videos published on the Internet without the consent of our client. Our clients are naked on a platter for strangers to devour without their consent. They become sexual entertainment without agreeing to be. Victims are harassed and blackmailed by strangers. Because the content appears in their search engine results, my clients fear they will never get hired and that nobody will want to date them. In religiously conservative cultures, victims are excommunicated. They are forced to move, quit school, change jobs, change their names. The consequences of nonconsensual porn are so serious and life-altering, federal criminal intervention is urgently needed. Just as we have laws that protect commercial interests like data and trade secrets, we as individuals also deserve intervention from the government.”
Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law
and Legislative & Tech Policy Director, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative: “This bill is a triumph for privacy rights. Like private medical or financial information, private sexual information deserves protection and respect. The unauthorized disclosure of the most intimate moments of a person's life, whether driven by malice, greed, or voyeurism, causes immediate and often irreversible harm. This bill is urgently needed to deter this conduct before it happens, and to offer victims the possibility of justice.
Sandra Pepera, Director for Gender, Women and Democracy at the National Democratic Institute: "All violence against women is wrong, and must be stopped. That includes unauthorized sexually explicit photos or film posted online which can be used to harass, threaten, and intimidate women in public life and politics. Congresswoman Jackie Speier and her colleagues are to be commended for their efforts to address these extremely important issues. The National Democratic Institute's #NotTheCost initiative takes a comprehensive approach to stopping violence against politically active women, which has a chilling impact on the aspirations of women to lead, especially younger women."
Annmarie Chiarini , nonconsensual pornography survivor and victims’ advocate: “In 2010 and again in 2011 I was a victim of non-consensual pornography. An ex-boyfriend attempted to auction off a CD on eBay that contained nude images of me that I had reluctantly allowed him to take over the course of our relationship. Fourteen months after the eBay auction, he posted the images on a porn website. He created a profile on the website that included my full name, the town where I live, the college and campus where I teach and a solicitation for sex. He was pretending to be me and was having conversations with the people who left violent and threatening comments on the images. The profile had been viewed over 3,000 times in less than two weeks. There were 20 pages of comments.
Both times I sought the help of law enforcement officials who shamed me, insulted me, and openly laughed at me. In Maryland, where I live, there were no laws in place that could have protected me. However, the man who posted the images lived in New Jersey where a law had been in place for several years. If the police were doing their jobs, he would have been brought up on felony charges.
The helplessness I suffered became all-consuming; I attempted suicide. I was ashamed, frightened, and convinced the only way to save myself was to kill myself.
I’ve since recovered from the trauma that ex-boyfriend inflicted on me and went on to assist over 2,000 victims of non-consensual pornography through my work with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. I testified in support of two bills, one in Maryland and one in Washington DC, that criminalized non-consensual pornography. Both bills were passed into law.
Throughout my ordeal, I, and the majority of the victims I assisted, heard the words, “If you hadn’t let him take the pictures, this never would have happened.”
While true, those words represent the rampant complacency that exists in crimes of a sexual nature. Those words send the message that legislators and law enforcement turn a blind eye towards the destructive behavior of posting intimate images without consent. They intimate that it is just too hard to implement consequences on those who publish nude images without consent thus driving their victims to suicide.
It’s time to stop being complacent. Join us, the advocates and attorneys who haven’t been afraid to do the difficult work that casts blame where it belongs – on the perpetrators of revenge porn.”