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What is the law on Revenge porn

By Aishwarya Dhakarey July 18, 2016

Aishwarya Dhakaray is a 4th year student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune

As the terminology indicates, it is the nonconsensual publication of sexually explicit (nude or semi- nude) images online, as a tool for seeking revenge. There are porn websites these days which feature revenge porn as a separate genre. Women are the primary victims but men are targeted too[i]. Usually, the offender is the ex-lover, husband, male friend, relative or colleague of the victim, who have no prior criminal record--hence, the term ‘revenge.’ The accused is generally a technologically sound person who uses fake IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to upload objectionable videos and pictures. The pictures or videos uploaded might be shot with the female’s consent but the dissemination is actually against her will. There are different applications which lead to this menace. Social media websites are also used as a tool to spread pornographic content. Sometimes the victim’s email account is hacked as well. In many cases a ransom is demanded to remove the objectionable photographs from such websites.[ii]

Consequences

Over and all, the victims are abused online. There can be numerous other adverse effects on the lives of the victims depending on the situations they are placed in. They can suffer in their careers and even in their future relationships. The erotic videos and photos, at times also contain individual’s information, contact details, etc. which make them fall prey to different kinds of online threats and blackmailing.

Moreover, there creeps in trust issues among the victims followed by social stigmatization. The victims might develop psychological diseases due to the damage caused to their reputation. The humiliation suffered is also irreparable.

Legislations in India

‘Voyeurism’ is the act of witnessing of people engaged in intimate behaviors or sexual acts.[iii] Revenge porn is the grey area in the Indian legal system. Revenge porn is both a form of sexual harassment as well as an encroachment upon the right to privacy. Online dissemination leads to wide publication. It is difficult to completely ban such websites as new ones are bound to crop up. Nations which have passed laws against revenge porn include Israel, Britain, Germany, and twelve states within the United States of America.[iv] The Information Technology Act, 2000 makes publication of obscene material online a serious offence.

There has been a rise of 63.7 per cent in cyber offences from 2012 to 2013 according to National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) figures released in July, 2014.[v] The amended 354 [C] of the Criminal Law (Amended) Act 2013, also known as the “voyeurism section”, criminalizes capturing and sharing images of a woman in a  private space. Section 66(E) of the IT (Information Technology) Act criminalizes the publication and transmission of images of an individual's private parts without his or her consent.[vi] Also, Section 345D to the Indian Penal Code reads as follows — ‘Whoever watches, or captures the image of, a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator shall be punished on first conviction extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Explanation 1.–– For the purposes of this section, a “private act” is inclusive of an act carried out in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to require privacy, and where the victim's genitals, buttocks or breasts are exposed or covered only in innerwear; or the victim is using a lavatory; or the person is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public.

Explanation 2.–– Where the victim gives consent to the capture of images or any act, but not to their dissemination to third persons and where such image or act is disseminated, such dissemination shall be considered an offence under this section.

There is a high probability of revenge porn becoming an act of voyeurism. If the victim of revenge porn is under 18 years, then the crime is treated as child pornography i.e. publishing or transmitting in electronic form of material depicting children in obscene, indecent or sexually explicit manner. The crime is punishable under Section 67B of the IT Act with a punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.[vii]

Conclusion

The pervasive nature of the internet is known to all. Sometimes, even without the presence of such nude or semi-nude pictures, images are photoshopped to an extent that the faces of victims are added, bringing upon them shame and disgrace with no fault of theirs. Women should use Google’s reverse image search engine to find all websites where the victim’s photos may appear. After taking careful note of all locations where such photos appear, victims are encouraged to file police reports.[viii] There are victims of revenge porn who cannot track down the convict or as the case maybe, do not have sufficient legal recourse. There is a dearth of anti-revenge porn laws in the country. There needs to be a handful of legislations in India specifically dealing with such issues, which stop internet users from posting unauthorized personal material.

[i]http://www.economist.com/news/international/21606307-how-should-online-publication-explicit-images-without-their-subjects-consent-be

[ii] http://ptlb.in/ccici/

[iii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyeurism

[iv] "Revenge porn: Misery merchants" (http://www.economist.com/news/international/21606307-how- should-online-publication-explicit-images-without-their-subjects-consent-be). The Economist. 5 July 2014.

[v] http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140803/jsp/7days/18682133.jsp

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] http://www.business-standard.com/article/specials/revenge-porn-makes-private-videos-a-public-disgrace-114073100992_1.html

[viii] http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=7a41630e-906f-42ff-af01-a80795eade5c

TAG: revenge porn , Voyeurism , Criminal Law (Amended) Act 2013 , , 354 [C] , National Crimes Record Bureau , NCRB , 66(E) IT (Information Technology) Act


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