By Robert L. Mues   |   January 31st, 2015

Groups Push To Outlaw Revenge Porn

Facebook Hit With Civil Lawsuit Over Revenge Porn

revenge porn ohioIn today’s ever connected world, what was once private often becomes public. Most individuals almost certainly have a smart phone camera or tablet device with a camera at their fingertips at any time.  This increase in accessibility coupled with the desire to photograph anything and everything has turned often daily tasks into internet posts.  This is all well and fun when it comes to photographing your dinner, your adventures and travels, and most often, your pets. Things can turn ugly though when this type of technology is brought into private relationships and intimate encounters.

Can You Post Nude Photos of Your Spouse Online Without Consent?

As a divorce lawyer, I am seeing more cases where a bitter spouse either threatens or disseminates nude photos of his/her spouse online.  Assuming there are current restraining orders in place preventing “harassment”, a contempt motion can be filed. That may be an inadequate remedy after the fact. So, individuals are looking  at both the state criminal and civil statutes.

State legislatures are rushing to enact laws that prevent the posting of private nude photographs and videos online.  This is a more recent trend known as “revenge porn” and is defined by the National Conference of State Legislatures as “posting of nude or sexually explicit photographs or videos of people online without their consent, even if the photograph itself was taken with consent.” This new trend has been skyrocketing in popularity among scorned lovers. This boom in popularity has led to numerous websites that allow depraved individuals to log on and upload private videos of their ex-lovers, or anyone, for the entire world to see.

The outcry over this type of behavior has led to the passage of anti-revenge porn laws in 11 states just in 2014.  (Ariz, Colo., Hawaii, Idaho, Md., New York, Penn., Utah, Va., and Wisconsin.) (Note: California passed revenge porn laws in 2013). Even more states are currently considering laws that would impose legal penalties on individuals who share these types of images/videos online.

This type of posting leads to very embarrassing and often life destroying situations for individuals.  Not only do these unbalanced posters put up pictures and videos, but often include addresses, full names, telephone numbers, and places of work.  Individuals whose information has been posted can be dangerously stalked and harassed.  This type of posting has also led to suicides, recently depicted by an 18-year-old male Rutgers student who was videotaped without consent in a sexual manner with another male.  This type of reactions to revenge porn led the state of New Jersey to outlaw this conduct.

Ohio does not have any revenge porn laws.  There has been a recent push in Ohio to enact these laws by advocate groups.  Ohio National Organization for Women addressed the subject by stating: “It’s new but it’s old” going on to say “It’s old because it’s systematic of how society views women.” This is very true as revenge porn does affect men, as witnessed by the Rutgers’ incident, but it predominately affects women.

Facebook has also been criticized for its lack of oversight on the issue, and just this past month has been hit with its first “revenge porn” lawsuit.  This lawsuit, filed by a Texas nursing student, seeks 123 million dollars in damages.  The lawsuit claims that Facebook did not act reasonably when it failed to take down a false profile with sexually explicit videos of her, claiming that the profile was purposefully made in order to embarrass and demean her.  The nursing student also claims that her future employment has been damaged, as her sexuality was on display for not only family and friends, but future employers.  These types of civil lawsuits will no doubt be on the rise in the future.

More States Debating Revenge Porn Laws

As the year progresses look for more states, including Ohio, to debate and pass laws outlawing revenge porn, adding criminal and civil penalties for these cowardly acts.

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Robert L. MuesAbout The Author: Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.

Revenge Porn Laws Enacted In Many States Except Ohio
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