Progress in the Battle Against Revenge Porn

Article by Karmen Sinozic

The communication between individuals involved in intimate relationships can be of a delicate nature, for example in cases where sexually explicit texts, pictures or videos are exchanged. If the relationship between individuals disappears and one of them decides to use the obtained material with the aim of revenge, the other party can find themselves as a victim of revenge porn.

“Revenge porn”  has been recognized as a profitable business by various revenge-pornography sites where people post nude pictures or videos of their ex-lovers. The profit is obtained not only by a large number of visits but also by requesting fees for the images to be taken down. With the website’s operators avoididing liability for the content posted by users, and the wrongdoers relying on their right to freedom of speech, the authorities face many obstacles when trying to protect the victim’s right to dignity and privacy.

In the United States, several states have introduced regulations dealing with revenge porn. A judgment by the court in San Diego, California, could be the beginning of the elimination of the revenge porn business. Kevin Bolleart, 28, was found guilty for running websites that enable the upload of revenge porn and charge a fee for the images to be taken down. This judgment is considered to be a landmark and a warning to the businesses they cannot accumulate wealth by taking advantage of the intimate information shared in confidence between partners.

Within the European Union, the victims of revenge porn usually rely on general protection against defamation, which form part of a person’s privacy rights.

Spain is showing significant progress in the fight against revenge porn with the recent approval of modifications to the Penal Code. The issue of revenge porn gained wide public exposure in Spain three years ago when a nude video involving a public official (Olvido Hormigos Carpio) was published by her lover. Even though the publisher was not found guilty, the team working on the modification proposal decided to include the issue of revenge porn in the proposed modification.

On the 22nd January 2015, the Spanish legislative body Congreso de los Diputados approved the modifications to the Penal Code. One of the modifications includes the clarification of the revenge porn tort in Article 197 paragraph 7 which states:

“If an individual, without the authorization of the person concerned, disseminates, discloses or transfers to third parties images or audiovisual recordings of the person concerned that have been obtained with the consent of the person at the place of residence or any other place away from the sight of others, he shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to one year or a fine of six to twelve months, when the disclosure would seriously undermine the personal privacy of that person.

The penalty shall be imposed in the upper half when the acts were committed by the spouse or a person who is or has been connected to the person concerned by an intimate relationship even when there was no cohabitation, when the victim was a minor or a person with disability in need of special protection or when the acts have been committed with a motive of profit.”

Regulating the issue of revenge porn, the Spanish legislation body showed extensive comprehension for the protection of an individual’s privacy. Declaring that the circulation of other peoples’ images as a punishable tort even though such images have been obtained directly from the person in question or with that person’s authorization, the relationship of confidentiality is protected. The Spanish legislation goes a step further by imposing more severe sanctions if the content is used to obtain profit.

Revenge porn is a serious act of harm that degrades both personal and private life. The victim experiences a loss of dignity and serious humiliation. Considering the wide reach of the Internet, a higher level of protection needs to be ensured; the new clause that will be introduced in the Spanish Penal code could be a perfect example.

For more information about legal responses to revenge porn, contact Piñera del Olmo SLP at info@pineradelolmo.com or call 93 514 39 97

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