Resource Hub for Revenge Porn Victims Launched

     (CN) – California Attorney General Kamala Harris launched the next step in her crusade against cyberexploitation: an online resource hub where victims and law enforcement can get more information on the crime.
     The most well-known cases of cyberexploitation – the practice of anonymously posting explicit photographs of others online – involve disgruntled exes who post explicit pictures or videos of their former partners without the partners’ permission.
     Last year, California became the first state in the nation to successfully prosecute a cyberexploitation case when Noe Iniguez was convicted and sentenced to a year in jail for posting nude photographs of his ex-girlfriend on her employer’s Facebook page.
     Earlier this year, Kevin Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years for operating a website that allowed people to anonymously post intimate photos accompanied by identifying information of individuals without their consent.
     The hub – the first of its kind in the nation – is designed as a one-stop shop for law enforcement, victims and technology companies needing information on cyberexploitation.
     The site will include information graphics with steps individuals can take after becoming a victim of cyberexploitation, and will provide a guideline for technology companies that want to prevent the posting of nonconsensual intimate pictures. It will also provide guidance to law enforcement about new and existing laws to investigate and prosecute cyberexploitation cases.
     “Posting intimate images online without consent is a cowardly crime that humiliates and belittles victims,” Harris said. “These new tools will assist law enforcement in combating cyberexploitation and support victims in seeking justice.”
     The hub is the result of work done by a taskforce of 50 major technology companies – including Microsoft, Google and Facebook – victims’ advocates, and legislative and law enforcement leaders.
     Harris’ group is also working toward updating state laws, increasing police training and promoting victim advocacy to bring awareness to the crime.
     Many tech firms have already instituted policies making it easier for users to request that unauthorized online images are taken down.
     “We’re proud that the technology industry has come together in support of this important issue to provide victims an avenue of protection,” John Doherty of TechNet said.
     More than 90 percent of all targets of cyberexploitation are women and girls, according to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, and 51 percent of victims later reported having suicidal thoughts.
     Danielle Keats Citron, a professor of law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, has seen firsthand the devastation that revenge porn can have and sees California’s efforts as “a major milestone in the fight against cyberexploitation.”
     “In my research of hate crimes in cyberspace, I’ve interviewed more than 50 exploitation victims. Victims had a hard time finding employment because their nude images and contact information appeared prominently in online searches. They were terrified that strangers would confront them in person. They moved; some changed their names; all were distraught. The fallout was devastating,” she said.
     The work done by Harris and the taskforce is “groundbreaking” and provides a “model for the rest of the country,” Citron said.
     In addition to the hub, the Attorney General’s office has sponsored two bills in the Legislature this year that give law enforcement more tools to investigate and prosecute exploitation cases.
     The first bill, SB 676, extends the forefeiture provision to revenge porn, allowing authorities to remove images from unauthorized possession. The second measure, AB 1310, amends existing law to allow search warrants for cyberexploitation crimes and expands jurisdiction to allow the cases to be prosecuted where the victim lives.
     Both laws were signed by Gov. Jerry brown and become effective Jan. 1, 2016.

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