Dragon Con 2014: Revenge Porn And Sexual Harassment

Posted: Sep 6 2014, 5:45pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 6 2014, 6:40pm CDT, in News | Latest Celebrity News

 

Dragon Con 2014: Revenge Porn and Sexual Harassment
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At Dragon Con this year, Electronic Frontier Forums hosted a panel all about revenge porn. During the same weekend, hackers posted unauthorized pictures of female celebrities. How do the topics relate?

One the panels I attended at Dragon Con this year centered on the victimization of revenge porn and how to legally stop the proliferation of images. The Electronic Frontier Forums hosted the "Revenge Porn: Updated” panel with TJ Mihill as the panelist, in part because he’s a lawyer with expertise.


Mihill mentioned how the 2013 panel on revenge porn assumed the largest form of illegal activity would be extortion to take the picture off a privately-owned site. Similar idea to the for-profit mug shot photo sites.

Turns out extortion wasn’t as on base as expected; instead, the biggest challenge has been simply removing the pictures. As of right now, only eleven states have any sort of law covering the idea of a person posting nude pictures as revenge.

Eleven states who have a problem keeping up with the technological age. And federally, not one law exists to protect victims in a single way; cases of revenge porn are dependent on the state’s laws. Without interstate discussion, victims will find it difficult to gain a sense of closure since that means very few states see a problem with legal ramifications against right to privacy.


All is not lost, though! Due to the laws concerning rights to one's own likeness, states like Georgia, New York, and California allow stolen images to be persecuted. However, if it’s a selfie image in California, the photographer is out-of-luck right now. According to the Washington Post, selfie images are only now being introduced.

Okay, it’s good to know the legal system’s stuck in the technological dark ages, but what is ‘revenge porn’ exactly?

In an op-ed on Jezebel, Charlotte Laws described the act as "the online distribution of nude and topless photos without consent in an effort to humiliate and hurt their targets, mostly females.”

Hunter Moore seems to be the king pin of revenge porn and targeted anyone looking to fight against the public consumption of private matters. (Note: Contrary to his opinion, it’s not bullying when people use the law to protect themselves.)


So how do the female victims strike back?

Through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Turns out that copyright still belongs to those taking the pictures and it doesn’t matter on what piece of equipment being used. While it’s easy to transfer copyright through signing a piece of paper, most victims aren’t willing to do that. So anyone posting the photographs are violating the act and are subject to legal repercussions.

Milhill mentioned victims may flood the website and ISP with DMCAs. The problem is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (1996) prevents actions against the website administrators since they’re not held responsible for user content. Apparently a corporation maybe considered a single entity but not an online website with thousands of users.


While at Dragon Con, some hackers online committed a very serious crime by releasing private, nude photos of many female celebrities.

So why am I mixing the two topics?

At the heart of the matter, a level of privilege exists for those posting consented and unauthorized nude pics because it's done in untraceable, or nearly untraceable, methods. In short, the victimizers are allowed the anonymity that the victims were denied.

Revenge doesn't have to mean an ex-partner, either.

Anyone feeling slighted who posts nude pictures are acting in revenge for some action. That, for the record, does not make the action in any way correct or understandable from a human empathy level. Still makes the poster a complete jerk for not being aware of or caring about real world repercussions. And the act is not a victimless crime.


In the case of the celebrities, a very clear line's been drawn on how representing lawyers will handle the case: namely, if you post or repost the images, then you're going to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. With money and power comes great opportunity to punish for illegal actions.

Mihill mentioned using DMCAs to take down the photographs in smaller, less known cases.

Imagine the sheer legal power if you go against a department that has no problem spending a ton of time and resources executing legal means to bring down illegal activity. Even after starting of the leak on the /b/ forum, 4chan is now forced to follow the same guidelines and has implemented a takedown policy.

The leaked photos (and attempted extortion by one less-than-intelligent internet user) are not meant for public consumption. And no, victim blaming isn't an okay action. Let's face it: how many naked male celebrity pics do we see online, where the men are lauded for their physical attributes and prowess while taking the victim-blaming attitude? A lot.

But women are an underrepresented minority where even Hollywood colleagues such as Ricky Gervais cavalierly tells women, "don't post nudes." Ignoring the fact it's not illegal to send someone a consented picture of your own body, let's break the argument down further.


Snide remarks, comments that have a disturbingly similar mindset of 'you had it coming', simply tell women that they're not to be trusted with their own sexuality. That a man can only be trusted to protect a woman's fragile, delicate concept on self.

Of course, all you have to do is go the revenge porn websites and you'll find the lies encased in that argument pretty quickly. Consent from a willing participant does not mean you own the rights the photographs. Quite the opposite if following Mihill's expertise.

The law doesn't move at the same speed as the internet. In the meantime, women are faced with abusive, entitled comments concerning owning their sexuality. The battle isn’t new for women, as commentary on female looks date back to Eve and her tastily tempting apple.

Somehow men seemingly do not hold responsibility for their actions. Hopefully, the attacked women celebrities will gain a foothold and force the law to face very real consequences for staying behind the millennial generation.


Without any grass roots organization to link and lead the charge against the legal system’s slow movement, women find winning legal battles difficult since it’s hard to prove who took the picture and the court case will be ongoing for years before finding resolution. If the victim can even prove without a shadow of doubt who the actual poster was.

Walt Disney’s never-ending copyright extension actually pays off the copyright owners of the leaked images, too. Right now, the extension lasts 70 years after death. Even though the latest extension allowed the Disney Company and estate to hold copyright on early Mickey Mouse imagery, the benefit is that the naked photographs will belong to the owners for the rest of their lives.

So anyone who willingly posts images online without permission are subject to persecution—no matter how large or small the entity may be.

In the meantime, those who committed a very real sex crime by posting unauthorized nudes online may face some difficult decisions in their freedom outside of cell walls.

In 2010, Scarlett Johansson's hacker posted photographs of the actress that she did not give permission to use. And in 2012, the Florida man earned 10 years in jail for the crime. Perhaps short-sighted hackers should have realized the precedence has now been set since the man also hacked into dozens of celebrities emails out of curiosity and turned the momentary act into an addiction. Didn’t exactly turn out well for him.


Entitlement's at the core of all cases of leaked nudes: a desire to shame, ridicule, and blame another person for not being what's expected. Talk about some selfish motivations.

So the case of recent leaked nudes seems to be added to a long chain of women forced to deny for the sake of career or admitting the photos are real but not intended for anyone but specific people. And no matter which road taken, always forced to handle the derisive remarks of internet users lacking a serious case of ethics and empathy.

At the end of each case of stolen privacy, the exposed women are forced to face victimization by a society who thinks "that'll never happen to me." And anyone paying attention learns how fast someone may seek revenge or look to profit off your imagery.


Look at the art exhibition in Florida, where the private photographs are going to be used without looking at the personal impact. Of course, part of the irony is the title, "Fear Google." And remember, privacy in in the digital age doesn't extend to actual privacy-only theortical.

Hopefully, someone will stop the exhibition since the photographs were not given freely and with permission. If all else fails, submit a DMCA cease-and-desist order. Might not be the answer, but at least some one will be forced to listen to a victim’s voice.

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