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Home // Revenge Porn, online harassment and the law

‘Revenge porn’ is proliferating. The government defines it as

‘the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress’

A helpline set up in the UK to help victims of revenge porn was predicted to experience a 60% increase in its workload in 2020. This anticipated increase in reports of revenge porn is clearly shocking. But there’s a range of legal remedies available – in both the criminal and the civil spheres  that can help victims cope better with the trauma associated with  this type of crime.

At Nath Solicitors in London our online harassment solicitors regularly advise individuals on the best way for them personally to tackle instances of revenge porn and other online breaches of privacy. Our experience working with high net worth and high profile individuals in particular means we understand the sensitive and often highly public nature of this type of work.

It’s crucial to get legal advice as soon as you become aware that private images are circulating – or that someone is threatening to circulate private material. Getting urgent advice means:

  • Firstly you’ll adopt a considered approach to the offence that’s occurred. It’s not always wise to approach the person who has posted the images directly for example
  • Secondly, a good legal adviser – contacted early on – can take immediate steps to prevent images being distributed more widely.

Criminal Sanctions For Revenge Porn

It’s usually a good idea to speak to a specialist solicitor before tackling the perpetrator of the revenge porn or online harassment. That’s because there’s a degree of crossover in this area of law between the criminal and civil systems. Whether or not you decide to involve the police our team can advise on all aspects of any civil (private) claim you might wish to bring, and we discuss some of the options open to victims of revenge porn below.

Your civil case is often strengthened if there is a parallel criminal investigation into the online harassment. If there is a conviction in the criminal courts this will also add weight to your civil claim.

As the instances of revenge porn increase, the criminal law has developed to meet some of the challenges this type of crime presents. In addition to charges based on well-established criminal offences such as blackmail, harassment and prosecutions under The Malicious Communications Act, legislation was introduced in 2015 creating a new criminal offence of ‘disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress’ (Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act, 2015).

Added to this and following a campaign by well-known celebrity figures in early 2021 it was reported that it could become an offence to threaten to share revenge porn – an acknowledgment of the effect such threats can have on an individual.

Can I Sue For The Distress And Harm Caused By Revenge Porn?

Not everyone wants to involve the police when they’ve been subjected to revenge porn.  And not every criminal case will end in conviction. Here at Nath Solicitors we can assist you with making any alterative civil claim you may wish to bring. This may involve:

  • In certain circumstances pursuing a damages claim for online defamation
  • Initiating privacy claims for misuse of private information
  • Making harassment claims and establishing whether your copyright has been infringed
  • Dealing directly with websites and social media channels to have the offending material taken down
  • Seeking injunctions to prevent future publication of the material

This is a difficult and highly contentious area of law, and one that is still developing. As we’ve noted above if you are affected by online harassment or have been the victim of revenge porn remember that support, specialist advice and legal action are available to you.

Contact Us

If you have been affected by revenge porn or other forms of harassment please contact us. We can discuss the issues we’ve raised here in more detail and help you decide what the best course of action is in your own personal circumstances. Please contact our director Shubha Nath at Nath Solicitors on 44 (0) 203 670 5540 or contact the firm online.

 

 

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