Nonconsensual pornography is the distribution of sexual, nude, or pornographic images of individuals without their consent. This includes images taken without the victim’s knowledge or consent, as well as those taken or given with consent but later distributed in a way that violates that consent. Nonconsensual pornography is sometimes referred to as “revenge porn,” which is somewhat of a misnomer because it implies some measure of culpability for the “revenge.”
Note: OSE Toolkits are primarily focused on safety and security issues related to the topic. Additional resources may be found in the resources section.
Is nonconsensual pornography illegal?
Yes. There are multiple laws addressing nonconsensual pornography. Many states directly criminalize the act of sharing intimate images without consent, while other states criminalize the act as a part of other statutes. Additionally, NCP may break other laws regarding unlawful surveillance, invasion of privacy, blackmail and extortion, computer crimes, or even copyright law.
How common is nonconsensual pornography?
In a nationwide survey, 1 in 12 people reported that they have been victims of nonconsensual pornography.
Who are the victims of nonconsensual pornography?
Most victims are in their late teens to early 20s. 9.2% of women and 6.6% of men have been victims of NCP.
Who perpetrates nonconsensual pornography?
In the majority of cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim and is most often a current of former intimate partner
Victims of nonconsensual pornography may feel a sense of urgency to remove the images as quickly as possible in order to limit their spread. While this is understandable and may work in many cases, it’s important to note that the perpetrator still has the original images and may share them again once removed. If the victim intends to pursue legal remedies, such as prosecution, collecting evidence before requesting removal is critical.
Because courts are aware that digital evidence can sometimes be fabricated, the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) generally place a high bar on submitting evidence related to online crimes such as nonconsensual pornography. In most cases, evidence such as server logs or user IP addresses are acquired through a court order.
It’s important to preserve digital evidence in order to give legal advocates or law enforcement the tools they need to pursue other options. Additionally, information collected by victims of nonconsensual pornography may be used in court of collected properly.
- Save websites as pdf documents (instructions may be found here)
- Take screenshots of the pages, to include the URL of the page and the date/time if possible
- Using another phone or camera, record video of the entire page or conversation, scrolling through all portions related to the crime
- Print the pages and store the pages in a secure location
- If the content is a video, download the entire video and store it in a safe location
Creating and completing an Evidence Chart
- Sample completed evidence chart.
- Instructions for completing the evidence chart.
- Blank evidence chart.
As a matter of best practice, evidence should be stored in at least two different types of media (for example, print, CD, thumb drive) and three different locations (hard drive, safe deposit box, secure cloud storage, email, with a trusted friend, etc).
It’s important to include all relevant conversation, even replies that may be unflattering to the victim. Deleting messages looks far worse to a court than an understandably emotional reply.
In order to identify, report, and remove illegal images, you can use the following techniques to locate them.
You need to start with an image source. This can be a copy of the image or the URL (web address), preferably both.
If you find an image online:
- Right click on the image and click “save image as”, then specify the location
- Right click on the image and select “copy image URL” or “copy image location” and store the address in a safe locations
Image search sites (by URL and Image)
- Google Images
- Yandex Images (Instructions)
- Bing SimilarImages
- Make sure to keep a detailed log of where images are found, to include direct URL, page name, and any other relevant information.
- Using copyright law / DCMA to remove images from image hosting sites.
- Instructions for removing images from popular social media sites
- Directory of attorneys registered with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.
- State NCP laws.
- FBI guidance NCP.
- Digital Abuse and restraining order “cheat sheet”.
- If audio or video is captured without consent, additional laws may apply depending on the state.
- Nonconsensual Pornography Among U.S. Adults (2019)
Yanet Ruvalcaba and Asia A. Eaton
- “Why Take the Photo if You Didn’t Want It Online?”: Agency, Transformation, and Nonconsensual Pornography (2019)
- Revenge Porn: The Name Doesn’t Do Nonconsensual Pornography Justice and the Remedies Don’t Offer the Victims Enough Justice(2020)
Jessica A Magaldi, Jonathan S. Sales, and John Paul
- An examination of nonconsensual pornography websites (2018)
Carolyn A Uhl, Katlin J Rhyner, Cheryl A Terrance and Noël R Lugo