Now that the pandemic has got us all cooped up inside, more and more horny folks are heading online to get off, whether it be furiously bopping off nudes or scheduling video-chat sex dates on the reg. But how do you keep your privates…well, private? Welcome to Spectrum Journal’s two-part series on practicing safe sext. In Part 1, we shared tips for securing your smut. Next up, Part 2: how to handle a sext security breach.
There is always some small element of risk with sharing explicit content—just look at all the celeb leaks—so it’s smart to brush up on the laws in place so you can stay cool, calm, and collected if you ever find yourself the victim of non-consensual pornography and need to act. (Non-consensual pornography, or NCP for short, is the preferred term over the more inaccurate revenge porn.)
"this is a betrayal of trust, it’s a violation of confidentiality, and it’s just really incredibly unethical and possibly criminal behaviour.”
“We see a lot of victims who, unfortunately, spend a lot of time and energy on feeling guilty, about what they have done wrong—but it’s the wrong place to place the blame,” according to Dr. Mary Anne Franks, professor of law at University of Miami School of Law, and president and legislative tech policy director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. “[You need to remember] that this is a betrayal of trust, it’s a violation of confidentiality, and it’s just really incredibly unethical and possibly criminal behaviour.”
As matchmaker and dating coach Claire AH of Friend of a Friend Matchmaking says, “The first thing to know is that, if it happens, it isn’t your fault and any attempt at victim-blaming is disgusting.” Repeat after us: It. Is. Not. Your. Fault. If your mental health is struggling post-leaked-nudes, there are a few organizations you can hit up for support and resources, including BADASS army and the aforementioned Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.
Make sure you preserve all the evidence
Now that we’ve got that firmly implanted in your brain, here are the basics of how you can fight back against any NCP violations:
—Make sure you preserve all the evidence, says Franks: “Your instinct might be to demand they immediately get taken down—and if that’s all you want, it’s true, they can be taken down, then that might be the way to go—but if you are planning on trying to bring a lawsuit or any kind of legal action or going to the police, it’s better to have a record of what’s actually happened so the people who are responsible can’t say ‘oh, it never happened.’”
Copyright law can be your BFF.
—Did you take the selfie? Copyright law can be your BFF. AH recommends reaching out to whoever owns the page where it was posted. Whether your leaked private pictures are on social media, a tube site, or a forum, letting the site know that you took the photo and you did not consent to having it shared is important.
“It still remains the case that copyright is one of those things that lots of websites that don’t want to get into trouble will actually take more seriously than a complaint about something being non-consensual; that is an unfortunate reality but it’s probably still true,” according to Dr. Franks. “But bear in mind that the copyright may only be exercised by someone who’s taken the photos. If someone has taken the photo of you, they’re the one who actually owns the copyright, not you.”
“You can often report directly through DMCA, which stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” AH says.
—In many jurisdictions, you can report it to the police. More and more states and provinces have laws around NCP, making sharing your content a criminal offence. In Canada, for example, criminal charges were brought in 851 cases between 2015 and 2018, some of which resulted in prison sentences. You can check out Cyber Civil Rights to see what laws exist in your state. “It is absolutely worthwhile to report it if you feel comfortable doing so,” AH says. “As with reporting other crimes of a sexual nature, it can be a difficult experience, but it’s something that many consider important. Whatever you choose to do, it is your choice.”
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT
Some of us have a little more time on our hands RN, thanks to social distancing, so what better way to spend those few extra minutes a day than on a little advocacy? You want the freedom to send nudes safely and securely, right?
The question is whether or not they took private information of yours and shared it without consent, and if your law doesn’t do that, then please advocate to get a better one in place.”
“One of the best things you can do is to see what the law is in your state and if the law does not reflect a real and actual robust protection of privacy, advocate for it to be changed or advocate to have a better law in place,” Dr. Franks says. “Unfortunately, the vast majority of states…have this really narrow definition of the crime that basically requires the perpetrator have some kind of personal malice toward the victim, which is not going to be true in many situations. We want to make sure the laws in your state are actually good laws, that they know the problem here is not whether the person meant to attack you or harass you, because that’s a separate issue. The question is whether or not they took private information of yours and shared it without consent, and if your law doesn’t do that, then please advocate to get a better one in place.”
For those based in the U.S., there’s also a federal bill that would actually provide protection to everyone in the United States, and would identify the crime properly, Dr. Franks says, so take the time to write to your congressperson in support of the Stopping Harmful Image Exploitation and Limiting Distribution (SHIELD) Act.
Saving a few bucks on cabs and cocktails these days? Throw a few bucks toward non-profits like the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative or others advocating for stronger laws around leaked pics and know that your hard-earned dollars are contributing to a safer future, for all our sexts.