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Millennials deal with consequences of revenge porn

As Millennials become increasingly tech-reliant in all facets of life — including relationships — some are facing unfortunate consequences.

Three out of four college students will be in a long-distance relationship at some point before graduation, according to a study in the Journal of Communication. Sending nude photos to a partner may be one way to maintain the passion.

In fact, a 2011 University of Rhode Island study found that 56% percent of students had received “sexually suggestive images.”

But what happens when a relationship dissolves and a heartbroken ex has a library of nude photos of their former partner?

For some, the answer is “revenge porn,” or posting someone’s sexually explicit image online without their consent.

The action is legal in 48 states — excluding New Jersey and recently, California — and protected under one’s First Amendment rights.

Holly Jacobs, a revenge-porn victim and founder of EndRevengePorn.com, says that this issue uniquely affects Gen Y.

“I would venture to say that most victims that contact me are of the college age,” says Jacobs, who found herself on a revenge porn site as a grad student at Florida International University in 2009. “It’s the Millennials who have grown up with technology and have integrated it into their lives.”

On Tuesday, the governor of California approved the criminalization of revenge porn. “Distributing private images with the intent to harass or annoy” may be punished by up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine on a first offense.

However, the statute does not protect victims who took the photos themselves, a group that makes up 80% of revenge porn victims according to a survey by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. The law applies only to images that were captured by someone without knowledge or consent of the victim.

Former revenge porn mogul Hunter Moore told tech publication The Register that he doesn’t think the government can stand in the way of websites like the one he started in 2010 — the now-defunct IsAnyoneUp.com.

“This doesn’t stop anything. If you read the bill it is just for peeping toms, not for selfies, which is all revenge porn really is,” he told the Register. “These stupid old white people are even more stupid to think they can stop it … It will just make revenge porn bigger by driving traffic, because people are talking about it.”

Moore added that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 is still in place, a law that protects owners of interactive websites from responsibility for content their users post.

As a victim, Jacobs points out that the California law also specifies a motive — emotional distress of the victim — that can be difficult to prove in court.

“Sometimes people post [revenge porn] to gain acceptance or notoriety on the internet, or even just to make money,” she says, explaining that a victim who initially consented to being photographed would have to prove she was emotionally distressed to win her case.

Gene Policinski, senior vice president of the First Amendment Center, says that civil lawsuits are one option for victims, although they can cause embarrassment and financial burdens.

He added that while California’s recent legislation indicates that the law is catching up with technological advances, lawmakers should be careful not to trample on First Amendment rights.

“Citizens have a right to be concerned anytime a government moves to restrain or punish speech, even if it’s repugnant,” he says. “What may be repugnant to one may not be to another.”

Meeghan Falls, a former Lamar University student, would not have been protected under a law like California’s.

Within a two-year relationship, Falls says she sent countless sexually explicit photos to her boyfriend at the time, a fellow Lamar student.

“After a year and half, you think, ‘I’m going to be with this guy forever,'” says Falls, now 21. “I didn’t have any problems sending these kinds of photos to him.”

The couple eventually split, and about two months later, Falls says she received a Facebook message from a stranger informing her that her photos and other identifying information were on a revenge porn site.

“My stomach dropped. I started shaking. I started crying immediately,” she says. “I felt like the whole world had seen me naked.”

Falls says she is currently in a civil lawsuit against her ex that includes three other women whose images he distributed on revenge porn sites.

Jacobs says that in a world where technology and sexuality overlap so heavily, she rejects the notion that preventing revenge porn means abstaining from taking sexual images.

“When people say that, it’s absolutely another version of blaming the victim. It’s the same thing as someone telling someone who’s been physically raped that they shouldn’t have been wearing that skirt,” she says, adding that she hopes to see further state and federal legislation.

Falls says telling her story is difficult, but she hopes it can prevent her experience from happening to someone else.

“I trusted this man … foolishly, but I trusted this man to keep [the photos] private, confidential,” she says. “As long as we can stop other girls from doing this and having this done to them, as long as something positive can come out of this, it would be just wonderful.”

Falls, who is now engaged to be married, says the betrayal she experienced hasn’t made her cynical.

“I don’t want people to think that they shouldn’t trust anyone, but just be careful who you do trust,” she says. “Make sure they’re worthy of it.”

Millennials deal with consequences of ‘revenge porn’ – USA TODAY
https://news.google.com/news/feeds?hl=en&gl=us&authuser=0&q=revenge+porn&um=1&ie=UTF-8&output=rss
revenge porn – Google News… Read the rest

Revenge porn victim devotes life fighting to change nation’s laws – Fox News

Holly Jacobs Revenge Porn Victim

Holly Jacobs, 30, is fighting to change the nation’s laws after private nude images of herself were posted on so-called “revenge porn” websites, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, without her consent or knowledge. (M.A. Williams)

 

When Holly Jacobs sent nude photographs of herself to a long-distance boyfriend she loved and trusted, the 23-year-old woman never imagined the horror that would befall her.

In August 2009, less than a year after the pair mutually ended their three-year relationship, Jacobs did a Google search of her name and discovered the naked photos on a so-called “revenge porn” website.

“I just went completely into shock,” said Jacobs, who hired a lawyer and eventually changed her birth name from “Holli Thometz” to Holly Jacobs.

“This is cyber-rape,” Jacobs, now 30, told FoxNews.com. “It’s all about the guy having control over the woman and exploiting her in a sexual way — the same way real-life rape does that. It violates you over and over again.”

What came next was perhaps more shocking to Jacobs. Police in Miami, where she lived at the time, took no action. They told her that “because you are over 18 and you consented, technically they are his property and he can do whatever he wants with them,” she recalled.

Jacobs, a 2005 graduate of Boston College who managed to earn a Ph.D during her ordeal, channeled her pain into advocacy for women similarly victimized by ex-boyfriends, who — without their knowledge or consent — posted photos meant to be private in the most public and humiliating way. Jacobs created the website “End Revenge Porn” and formed the group Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), under which she serves as CEO and executive director.

With the advancement of technology, millions of people — mostly teens and young adults — turn to “sexting” pornographic or inappropriate photos to their boyfriends or girlfriends, with little or no foresight into what may one day become of them.

“At this time, 49 states do little or nothing to stop malicious individuals from endangering lives and reputations by distributing sexually graphic pictures of people without their consent,” said Mary Anne Franks, a professor at University of Miami School of Law. “Both state and federal criminal laws are needed to prevent and address this form of sexual abuse.”

For Jacobs, the initial discovery of nude photos on a website called “AmIHotOrNotNude.com” was only the beginning of her nightmare.

The young woman hired a lawyer, who wrote a letter to Jacobs’ ex-boyfriend, Tampa resident Ryan Seay, to “just kind of scare him.” The photos immediately came down, Jacobs said.

In November 2011, Jacobs began dating someone new, and posted a picture of the two on her Facebook page. Hours later, she was bombarded by emails from strangers saying, “There are pictures of you all over ‘revenge porn’ websites.”

“My material went viral within three days. It was on over 200 websites, with my full name, my e-mail address, the school I attended, and a link to where I worked,” said Jacobs, who at the time was a teaching assistant at Florida International University.

And then a chilling e-mail arrived in her inbox from a fake Yahoo e-mail address that was created using her name. The writer told her to “get in touch concerning your photos” and warned her that a “nice video” was awaiting distribution, she recalled.

“Have your boss and co-worker seen it?” the taunting e-mail read.

The sender wrote that if Jacobs did not respond by a certain time, he would upload the video, titled, ““Masturbation 201 by Professor Holli Thometz.” And he did, she said.

According to Jacobs, the video was an old Skype interaction between her and Seay, which was recorded without her knowledge.

In April 2013, Jacobs filed a civil lawsuit against Seay as well as websites and servers that posted the photos and personal information. The lawsuit claims that Seay and the other defendants violated her privacy by posting such photos and information without her consent. The complaint also seeks a court order prohibiting additional publication by the defendant, and to retrieve or destroy all the photos in Seay’s possession, Jacobs’ Miami-based attorney, Patrick McGeehan, told FoxNews.com.

Seay, 28, could not be reached for comment. He has reportedly claimed someone hacked into his computer and stole the photos from him. In an e-mail to FoxNews.com, his attorney, Charles Arline, denied any wrongdoing by his client.

“At this time I can only relate that my client is eager to answer these charges and defend himself in the proper forum, i.e. the court system,” Arline wrote. “He adamantly disputes the allegations and is in no remote way affiliated with any type of revenge porn and has previously extended his support to Ms. Thometz or Ms Jacobs efforts.”

Click here to view the lawsuit  

“The laws have not kept up with technology, that’s the bottom line,” Jacobs said.

In New York, for example, such behavior would be criminal if the plaintiff could prove the video was secretly taken, according to legal sources.

“If a person was surreptitiously recorded or unaware that the video was being made, and the recording is then disseminated on one of these websites, this is a crime,” said Mark Bederow, a New York-based criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. “In New York, posting a video made in such a manner would constitute Unlawful Surveillance in the Second Degree, which is a felony.”

“Even if the person was aware she was being recorded, dissemination of this material in a manner designed to humiliate may constitute aggravated harassment. Other states have similar statutes,” Bederow said.

But University of Maryland School of Law Professor Danielle Keats Citron notes that such dissemination would only be criminal if the defendant engaged in a “harassing course of conduct as an ongoing harassment campaign.”

“One posting, even two, as damaging as it will be, would not constitute a crime in New York and other states,” Citron said. “It can’t be an isolated event.”

New Jersey remains the only state that makes it a felony to share an individual’s nude images without that person’s consent.

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Why Isn’t Revenge Porn Illegal Everywhere?


People who have their nude pictures posted on the Internet without consent — a vile practice known as revenge pornhave little legal recourse. That’s changing, but only very slowly, with legislation proposed in California earlier this year joining New Jersey as the second state with laws specifically targeting the practice.* The California bill passed the state Senate earlier this month and this week the California legislature will debate it. If the bill passes in its current form, posting revenge porn would be considered a misdemeanor and posters of their ex-girlfriends’ nudes could face up to a year of jail-time or a fine of up to $2,000.

Despite what sounds like a much-needed bill for a practice that victims and advocates like Holly Jacobs — the first Floridian, according to her lawyer, to sue her ex for the alleged distribution of non-consensual pornography — say is becoming increasingly common, not everyone thinks explicit revenge porn bills are the way to go. One California State senator voted against the proposed legislation arguing, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, that it limits free speech, reports The New York Times‘s Somini Sengupta today. Both Florida and Missouri rejected similar bills last year because of free speech concerns.

In addition, other legal experts argue that current laws already protect revenge porn victims, under harassment, stalking, and even copyright law. “I’m unclear exactly how much ground the new law would cover that isn’t already covered by existing laws, such as anti-harassment/anti-stalking laws,” Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, told Sengupta. “As usual, one of the key questions is how existing law has failed and what behavior is being newly criminalized.” Indeed, Jacobs’s May 2013 lawsuit aims to charge her ex-boyfriend with one count of stalking, two counts of harassment by use of personal identification info and one count of unlawful publication, all of which could add up to a total of four years’ jail time. (Jacobs worked with Florida lawmakers to pass a bill, which ultimately failed, to make the practice of posting pornographic images on the Internet without consent a third degree felony.)

Still, Jacobs and others say laws specifically targeting revenge porn only cover repeated postings of images. The Internet and sites like the now defunct Is Anyone Up and its even more vile replacement HunterMoore.tv, from noted jerk and Internet entrepreneur Hunter Moore, make a single posting even more impactful because just one image posted without permission can go viral, and harassment or stalking laws might not cover a single infraction. In addition, having specific laws against posting pornographic images online without permission would deter the behavior, argues University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron. “It signals taking the issue seriously, that harms are serious enough to be criminalized,” she told Sentgupta.

*This post originally said New Jersey passed a revenge porn law in 2011. It already had one on the books.

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Why Isn’t Revenge Porn Illegal Everywhere? – The Atlantic Wire

revenge porn – Google News… Read the rest