As the Vice-President of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, I work on legislative, technological, and social solutions to the problem of non-consensual pornography (also called “revenge porn”). I have drafted model federal and state criminal legislation to protect sexual privacy with extensive input from First Amendment scholars, privacy experts, lawyers, judges, telecommunications and social media companies, civil liberties groups, anti-domestic violence and anti-trafficking advocates, and victims.
To date, I have advised legislators in 18 states and D.C. in the drafting of laws prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, several of which have already passed. I am currently working with Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) on a federal criminal law protecting sexual privacy. An up-to-date list of states that have laws prohibiting non-consensual pornography can be found here; the National Conference on State Legislature’s resource page on state revenge porn legislation is here. You can find out more about the campaign to end revenge porn here.
Here are links to my various writings on the subject of non-consensual pornography, in roughly chronological order (most recent first), including a Guide for Legislators that outlines the features of an effective, constitutionally compliant law.
The Need for Sexual Privacy Laws (Brookings Institution)
The Internet’s Privacy Hypocrisy (The Daily Dot)
Precautions and Privacy (New York Daily News)
The Many Ways Twitter is Bad At Responding to Abuse (The Atlantic)
It’s Simple: Criminalize Revenge Porn, Or Let Men Punish Women They Don’t Like (The Guardian) (with Danielle Citron)
Why Revenge Porn Must be a Crime (New York Daily News)
We Need New Laws to Put a Stop to Revenge Porn (The Independent)
Legal Developments in Revenge Porn: An Interview with Mary Anne Franks (Concurring Opinions)
Why We Need a Federal Criminal Law Response to Revenge Porn (Concurring Opinions)
Adventures in Victim Blaming: Revenge Porn Edition (Concurring Opinions)
The Sext Wars: Consent, Secrecy, and Privacy (Concurring Opinions)
Criminalizing Revenge Porn (Wake Forest Law Review) (with Danielle Citron).
Related Articles on Free Speech and the Communications Decency Act Section 230:
The Lawless Internet? Myths and Misconceptions about CDA Section 230 (Huffington Post)
On HuffPost Live discussing the theft of female celebrities’ photos and how abuses against women are treated differently from any other forms of abuse.
Twitter demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the dynamics of social media abuse by touting block and mute functions as adequate measures to respond to abuse. People who use social media to abuse other people do so at least in part because of its public dimension: They want not only to force themselves into their targets’ line of vision, but to ensure that other people see them doing it. That’s part of the harasser’s game—not merely to attack an individual, but to attack, discredit, and humiliate a target in front of as large an audience as possible.
The possibility of being imperfect — of making mistakes — without dire consequences is in some respects the very definition of privilege. For only some groups need to fear that they may trip the wire of state-sanctioned violence at any moment….
My latest for the Huffington Post, on the shooting of Michael Brown and the lives that are presumed unworthy.
You can view my presentation before the Miami Beach Commission here.
Identity Theft Prevention and Survival
I talk with “Privacy Piracy” radio show host Mari Frank about revenge porn and sexual privacy.
Mitchell J. Matorin is directly involved with civil efforts to fight revenge porn, and has written in favor of efforts to criminalize it. He is an attorney whose practice focuses on intellectual property, Internet and computer law.
It is refreshing to see media attention being given to a lawyer who not only fights on behalf of revenge porn victims but also deeply understands the legal, social, and technological complexities of the issue of nonconsensual pornography. For instance, he is appropriately contemptuous of the idea that copyright law can adequately address the problem (“copyright law is something that some of these free speech advocates have pointed to as a valid remedy, and that’s nonsense”), notes that criminalization efforts can help deter this conduct, refuses to engage in victim-blaming, and makes the (depressing but probably correct) observation that recent high-profile male victims may be what it takes for the issue to be taken seriously.
Mary Anne Franks (University of Miami School of Law) has posted Drafting an Effective ‘Revenge Porn’ Law: A Guide for Legislators on SSRN. Here is the abstract: This short document provides an overview of legislative efforts in the U.S. to…
Legislators/activists interested in drafting “revenge porn” legislation may find this guide useful. I will be updating as more laws are proposed and passed.
“‘Where I come from, we holler at women. Sorry if that offends you, but you shouldn’t feel that way. Because, you know, women were put on this earth to satisfy a man, so if she feels offended, she shouldn’t have ever been born.’ He goes on, ‘You don’t believe in the Bible? That’s why Eve was born.’ In addition to the awful biblical justification, he goes on to utilize every sexist bro’s favorite defense of their right to make gross comments with impunity: ‘But, see, you’ve got the freedom of speech. That’s why you’ve got the freedom of speech, to holler if you wanna holler.’ In other words: STOP CHASTISING ME FOR HARASSING YOU ON THE STREET, THOUGHT POLICE!!!!”
Points for candor, I guess.
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