Erotic Extortion: A Legal Case against Revenge Porn

Curator's Note

Just a few weeks ago, former Major League Baseball player and coach Jacque Jones admitted to circulating naked photos of his ex-girlfriend without her consent. Jones joins the list of other celebrities accused in revenge porn cases, including reality TV star Rob Kardashian, rapper 50 Cent, and NFL player Jermaine Cunningham. All of these cases targeted female victims. According to the Data and Society Research Institute, one in ten women under the age of 30 have been victims of or threatened with having their private sexually explicit images publicly shared without their consent.

Last month, New York lawmakers passed a bill to outlaw the dissemination of revenge porn. The Empire State joins 41 other states in making this act illegal. However, victims in eight states remain helpless. Revenge porn victims in these states are vulnerable to having their bodies, sexuality, and privacy violated with no consequence. This can have major impacts on their careers, social lives, and mental health. A recent research study highlighted the potential mental anguish of revenge porn victims. Victims in this study suffered from PTSD, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

The legal strides states have recently made to stop revenge porn should be applauded, but they still fall short in providing justice for all victims. A law in every state addressing revenge porn is an ideal solution. Additionally, federal legal action regarding internet providers would discourage the public dissemination of revenge porn. Currently, the Federal Communications Deceny Act grants immunity to online intermediaries that host criminal content. Congress should create an exception to this immunity geared toward revenge porn website hosts. A takedown procedure, similar to the one found in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, should be put in place to make sure that this sensitive, mortifying, and illegal material is removed from the website immediately. Scholars like Allison Tungate argue that this modification would keep the integrity of the Act intact while also providing relief to revenge porn victims. And victims deserve relief.  


Thanks for this interesting post. I think you've made some good suggestions for expanding these laws to every state and providing a take-down procedure for problematic content. When you mention immunity for online intermediaries, I assume that you're referring to the Section 230 protections in the CDA? If so, and if the maerial in question is already legal and has a take-down mechanism, why would there be a need to make an exception to Section 230 immunity protections?

Add new comment

Log in or register to add a comment.