Google Says It Will Remove Revenge Porn Results From Search… Raising Some Questions

from the good-intentions,-but-will-there-be-bad-results dept

Earlier today, Google announced on its website that it will now be letting the victims of revenge porn request removals from the Google search index:

Our philosophy has always been that Search should reflect the whole web. But revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims?predominantly women. So going forward, we?ll honor requests from people to remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results. This is a narrow and limited policy, similar to how we treat removal requests for other highly sensitive personal information, such as bank account numbers and signatures, that may surface in our search results.

In the coming weeks we?ll put up a web form people can use to submit these requests to us, and we?ll update this blog post with the link.

We know this won?t solve the problem of revenge porn?we aren?t able, of course, to remove these images from the websites themselves?but we hope that honoring people?s requests to remove such imagery from our search results can help.

If I were in Google’s shoes, I would be quite tempted to institute the same policy — and I’m supportive of things that will actually end or limit revenge porn. So I hope that this works great and that it’s an effective solution both to help limit the damage to victims and in further decrease the “value” (whatever that might be) to the scum of the earth who run revenge porn sites (or who frequent them).

But… at the same time… I worry about the unintended consequences of this move. First, as Alex Byers correctly notes, this will only embolden Hollywood to mistakenly claim that this shows that Google can remove unauthorized content just as easily. That’s a silly claim, because Google already does exactly this for copyright holders, thanks to the DMCA, and it takes down millions of links per year thanks to such requests. So, in some sense, this shouldn’t give any more ammo to Hollywood, because all it’s really doing is expanding the DMCA process to revenge porn.

My second concern, though, is that this will then embolden lawmakers into thinking that “Oh, see, we can just expand the DMCA (or something like it) to cover revenge porn.” This looks like such an appealing solution if you’re a politician, and Google’s move will certainly be used to support it. But it’s not that easy as we’ll explain in the third concern. But giving politicians more reasons to expand these types of legal regimes is fraught with risk, and Google’s move will almost certainly be cited as evidence that it’s a perfectly reasonable strategy.

And that brings us to the third concern: this process will be abused. This is the big one. We know the DMCA is abused. It’s abused widely. Every day. We report on many of those abuses. Expanding the avenues under which takedowns can be abused is going to lead to more abuse. Some will argue that such abuse is a reasonable price to pay to protect the victims of revenge porn. Copyright holders frequently argue that the abuse of the DMCA is similarly no big deal, or a reasonable level of collateral damage for protecting their copyright. It’s still troubling, however, that legitimate and perfectly reasonable speech can be taken down.

Finally, the fourth big concern: in some ways, this is an extension of the “right to be forgotten” process that has gotten so much attention in Europe, though in a very specific class of cases. But, again, some will use this as evidence to argue for the expansion of the class of cases that it should cover, and that’s going to lead to an awful lot of judgment calls, some of which many people may have trouble with.

In the end, I’m conflicted, but worried. I’d love to see a way to stop revenge porn, but I still worry a lot about how wide a net any “solution” casts around it. Perhaps I’m being too pessimistic, and this will actually be effectively narrowly targeted. And if so, that will be fantastic. I hope I’m wrong. But for too long we’ve seen too many people looking to find ways to censor all sorts of content they dislike, and to find cracks in the dam to try to push censorship agendas. And thus, while I’m fully supportive of coming up with plans to actually end revenge porn, I’m nervous that wading into this territory will only open up a path to greater censorship and dangerous unintended consequences.

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Comments on “Google Says It Will Remove Revenge Porn Results From Search… Raising Some Questions”

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135 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Blowing that foot clean off

Finally, the fourth big concern: in some ways, this is an extension of the “right to be forgotten” process that has gotten so much attention in Europe, though in a very specific class of cases. But, again, some will use this as evidence to argue for the expansion of the class of cases that it should cover, and that’s going to lead to an awful lot of judgment calls, some of which many people may have trouble with.

Oh I imagine it’s going to do more than that. We’ve already got groups in the EU arguing that the ‘right to be forgotten’ deserves to apply on a global scale, and a move like this is going to make it very difficult for Google to fight back against that idea.

If they are willing to de-list material that’s legal but embarrassing/personal, as is the case here, then you can bet those arguing for an expansion of the ‘right’ to be forgotten will latch on and point out that the same willingness should apply for other ‘legal but embarrassing’ info.

I can understand the motive behind their move here, such sites are all sorts of disgusting, but I can’t help but think that it’s going to come back and bite them.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Blowing that foot clean off

Becasue posting an image that YOU took of your significant other in the all together whilst repugnant and morally wrong is quite legal since you own the photo and copyright and they agreed to you taking the photo.

If you can prove that they took the photo without your knowledge in a private setting well that’s harassment (different law). If the person photographed was a minor, again different criminal already in place law. If the photos were hacked (unauthorised access) again thats a seperate criminal already in place criminal law.

There is NOTHING inherently illegal about posting your own photos that you took online. Though it could be unlawful.

Australia (my home) is currently going through this at moment since a whole lot of photos were posted to 8chan after a phone hack occured. Most idiots are victim blaming, but the other side are trying to ask for new laws that would have so much chilling effect its unreal. It’s a real problem but ad hoc measures like Google is NOT the correct way of doing things

Atkray (profile) says:

Sorry but no.

I don’t like revenge porn sites and think they should die in a fire.

However, free speech is free speech, whether one likes the speech or not.

Google is slowly killing itself by becoming more than just a search engine(I realize Google has other products but this policy refers to the search engine).

A search engine searches and the popularity of the results and the engine itself is a result of it finding what people are looking for. As they keep removing results(and I agree this may well start a bad precedent down a long steep slope) they make the engine less effective.

Some of us have already discovered this and started using alternatives, others will too.

Additionally, I realize that for those affected, revenge porn is painful but it has long been said, that if you don’t want naked pictures of yourself on the internet, then don’t take naked pictures of yourself. If you didn’t take them then existing laws are in place to prosecute those who did. Otherwise you should remember that at some point you were willing and possibly proud to show yourself to the camera.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sorry but no.

2 things.
1, Is putting an image on the internet, strictly speaking, ‘speech’. I see it more as an action. If it is speech, then in this case all it says is “i’m an unconscionable prick”.

2, “Additionally, I realize that for those affected, revenge porn is painful but it has long been said, that if you don’t want naked pictures of yourself on the internet, then don’t take naked pictures of yourself. If you didn’t take them then existing laws are in place to prosecute those who did. Otherwise you should remember that at some point you were willing and possibly proud to show yourself to the camera”.

Why the victim blaming? Not cool.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sorry but no.

I read it as “, then don’t take naked pictures of yourself. and place them willingly on the unsecured internet

With that implied addendum it is definitely not victim blaming.

Without it, well yes it is skirting on victim blaming.

And though it is an action, (as is the action of writing and voicing something) it’s a form of speech since you are conveying a communication to others. Speech doesn’t have to be specifically verbal or written.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sorry but no.

1 yes. it it speech. There is no valid argument that posting an image is not speech. It may be speech that people dont like, it may not say much, but it is speech and should be protected.

2 yup. I am not sure how people do not understand this by now. I think people that post revenge porn are repugnant, but I am firmly in the “blame the victim” camp on this one. If you do not want pictures and videos of you having sex on the internet, dont let someone take them. Please dont wreck my internet because you did something stupid and are now embarassed. To me, people trying to get revenge porn taken down are no different than an actress filing dmca takedowns on a film she didnt like being in.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sorry but no.

Because the personal images always belong to the person being depicted, it is an action.

Incorrect. Other than works-for-hire, or similar situations where there is a clear transfer of ownership, pictures belong to the person that took the picture, otherwise you’d have ridiculous situations like a single picture of a crowd being ‘owned’ by hundreds or even thousands of people.

Ken Riel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Sorry but no.

We’re talking about revenge porn, but in reality this should apply to any intimate or private personal/sexual images. By definition, this would not generally include crowd scenes or artistic depictions of intimate acts. This would include images of Human beings in situations of personal trust. Being a party to that sort of trust and betraying it by openly exposing it is tantamount to criminal voyeurism or even sexual assault.

If current statue doesn’t reflect this then it damn well should.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Sorry but no.

‘… criminal voyeurism or even sexual assault‘?

Yeah, no. Stop letting your emotions over the matter over-rule basic sense. Showing a picture of someone is not even remotely similar to assaulting them(sexual or otherwise), and we already have laws against voyeurism, and revenge porn doesn’t fall under them.

Betrayal of trust is a painful thing to deal with, but it is not, and should not, be a crime. If one person tells another a potentially embarrassing secret, and the latter makes it known, they have not broken any laws, and the same thing applies here. If the pictures were taken knowingly and with consent, while showing them to others later is a seriously sleazy thing to do, it is not a criminal action.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sorry but no.

“I an individual does not give permission to have their body viewed by others then viewing it anyway is uncool, and facilitating that viewing by others is a something of a criminal act.”

We’re not talking about pictures taken with hidden cameras or something like that. We’re talking about pictures taken of people with their full knowledge and consent. Big difference.

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sorry but no.

Not victim blaming, I just think people should think through their actions and possible consequences.

If you take pictures of yourself naked you should realize that at some point they may become embarrassing.

If that bothers you then don’t take them.

If that doesn’t bother you then as I said, “Otherwise you should remember that at some point you were willing and possibly proud to show yourself to the camera”

I see a large part of this as a situation where the people involved were fine as long as life was lollipops and unicorns but now that there is a big fat turd in the punchbowl everyone is a victim.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Sorry but no.

Nude photo’s are often taken under duress, They are something that boy’s wish to posses more than girls want to create them. But to hear you describe it, it’s something that girls do all by themselves.

I think that you’re fine about it because you’re a boy so it can’t happen to you. I certainly hope that it doesn’t happen to someone you care about in the future.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 There are plenty of women

…who have little or no shame of their bodies. They may keep themselves concealed because of the consequences of being exposed (e.g. getting arrested for indecent exposure or losing their jobs or in some cases losing standing in a prudish community) but there’s a difference between modesty due to societal pressure and modesty due to some sort of deontological more.

Yes, the sharing of photos (for example via sexting) is a common practice nowadays, much to the chagrin of the standards-and-practices guardians, but not always done at the reluctance of those involved. And while, yes, generally such images or recordings are expected to be kept private (and destroyed or archived after a break-up) that expectation isn’t always there.

The internet is filled with people, including women, who’ve gleefully put themselves on display.

Amanda says:

Re: Re: Re:3

My abuser would take my blanket off one boob and take pictures of himself touching me while im asleep with my mouth open. Narcoleptic so i dont wake up sometimes and now i just dont sleep every time. Cept for the narcoleptic part lol. He has also taken a video of himself holding my phone as he plays a video of me sleeping with someone else and hs keeps it “to remind him of who i am” but he had physically thrown me out over being late. Like shoved out the door verbally dumped. So i slept with somebody to not sleep in my car in 110°s
I know this has to be illegsl but im isolated down to my sister dad the future revenge porn poster and well now the guy i slept with doesnt inquire if im alive so basically the two ppl whp tried to help me leave then it wasnt safe enough or i couldnt figure out what to do to run without consequences or coming home begging forgiveness after a failed attenpt at askint for help led to unability to put said cat back in. Then there is silent scorn.
When i was 16 my boyfriend was sent a pic of me blacked out giving a stranger head in an unrecognizable room/dick plus my clothes were unrecognizable to me…that should hsvr been child porn but i didnt think i could wear gold jeweley lije i was with hideous clear bra straps…
Idk some ppl belong in jail and i think ill break his phone but he backed it up i think. Without fail he will use intimidation looks threats or just when im asleep to look at my phone (I can’t remember where it’s called but not corrupted I can have a five minute conversation I was open that makes sense and they don’t remember it right after they wake up or right before bed and I always give up my password without my own consent lmao im living a nightmare
He would fight to the death or die of starvation having to say no that much so ill only get a peak when he forgets his phone but he will remember and get it in 30 secs w/o fail.
I want to prevent the revenge porn b4 it effects the guy i slept with and his partner and etc etc he didnt wamt my abuser that i was running from to grant himself a copy
Its Messed up and I think it might be on the Internet because he never wanted is Gmail and never bothered to learn the password but I set it up so he get back his photos and stuff up when he got his new phone. Somehow today mentions it and asked about my sisters email on there whatever that means

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sorry but no.

I’m calling bullshit.

My phone’s inbox is chock full of images women have willingly taken and sent to me without me ever even asking.

Just because your morals and sense of propriety differ from many other women doesn’t make them wrong. Stop being a sexist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sorry but no.

Is putting an image on the internet, strictly speaking, ‘speech’. I see it more as an action. If it is speech,

Speech is any form of expressions, including photographs, songs, mime, films etc, just the press is any means of publication, as it was a reference to the only means available at the time, the printing press. Be very very careful about using any other definition of either, as it leads to those in power becoming able to limit how people express themselves to literal speech, with all other means of getting a message out strictly controlled by those in power.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Sorry but no.

And not all fallacies are absolute.I would wager the statement isn’t false.

And the internet isn’t really about pure logic, is it?.
.

Personally I think their should, if there isn’t already, be a form of Godwin’s law for naming logical fallacies – you know, the longer a thread gets the more the likelihood of someone linking to yourlogicalfallicyis.com approaches 1.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Sorry but no.

And not all fallacies are absolute.I would wager the statement isn’t false.

The point of logical fallacies is that the truthiness of the statement doesn’t tend to correlate with the correctness of the proposition.

As the first post stated, However, free speech is free speech, whether one likes the speech or not. It’s pretty likely that people won’t like it if embarrassing pics of their family are on public display – statement is true. Speech is still legal – statement is true.

As mentioned in a comment by G Thompson, there may be other laws broken in the course of the speech, but the speech itself is not (should not be) the illegal part.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: The CULTURE is bad for women.

The internet being bad for women is a symptom of a heavily misogynous culture.

Watching the LWT Blurb on internet harrassment and revenge porn made it really clear how the common attitude is well don’t take the pictures in the first place.

Yeah, and if someone mugs you and steals your shoes, that’s what you get for wearing shoes.

In much of Western culture, and particularly in the US, it just sucks to be a woman, and that’s the thing that ultimately needs to change. The fact that revenge porn is a thing is only a small part of this intrinsic misogyny.

A (small) step in the right direction would be a public-access database of piece-of-shit partners that betray trust by posting online private pictures, so as to forewarn anyone who might consider dating them.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The CULTURE is bad for women.

Watching the LWT Blurb on internet harrassment and revenge porn made it really clear how the common attitude is well don’t take the pictures in the first place.

There’s a fine line between blaming the victim and offering advice for how to avoid a bad situation. I would tell college women not to get drunk at parties. That is not blaming rape victims, and it is not saying that if she does get drunk, she deserves whatever happens to her. It is also not saying that is the ultimate solution to the problem. But it can easily be taken in any of those ways.

In much of Western culture, and particularly in the US, it just sucks to be a woman,

You think the west is where it sucks to be a woman?

A (small) step in the right direction would be a public-access database of piece-of-shit partners that betray trust by posting online private pictures, so as to forewarn anyone who might consider dating them.

Indeed, that is the root problem, not nudie photos.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Where it sucks to be a woman.

You think the west is where it sucks to be a woman?

It sucks to be a woman in the west. Yes.

It may suck more to be a woman in the Middle East or in Asia, but that doesn’t make it suck any less to be a woman in the middle east.

Frankly, it sucks hard enough for a culture to differentiate how it treats one kind of person from another, and the degree to which we privilege men in the west over women is still a pretty wide threshold, regardless of the size of comparable thresholds in other societies.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Where it sucks to be a woman.

the degree to which we privilege men in the west over women is still a pretty wide threshold,

I don’t categorically disagree, but there are ways women are disadvantaged, and other ways that men are disadvantaged. It’s much less clear in the west that women are at an overall disadvantage than it is in other parts of the world.

Frankly, it sucks hard enough for a culture to differentiate how it treats one kind of person from another,

Very true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The CULTURE is bad for women.

“There’s a fine line between blaming the victim and offering advice for how to avoid a bad situation. I would tell college women not to get drunk at parties. That is not blaming rape victims,”

YES, it is. Not blaming the victims would be telling the perpetrators not to be so “rapey”. Do you see the difference? As soon as you tell the ‘victim’ to change something about their behaviour it is ‘blaming’.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The CULTURE is bad for women.

It’s more complicated than that. If I had access to the perpetrators, I would absolutely tell them not to be so “rapey”. If I only have access to my daughter, then I will teach her how to protect herself on the assumption that nobody else has gotten around to asking the perpetrators to behave, either.

Society is a shared thing, and we can only influence the behaviour of those who we interact with.

Agonistes (profile) says:

Now what happens when it is the person on the receiving end of harassment who tries to publicly shame some disgusting human being by posting visual evidence of them in flagrante delicto and the aggressor claims “revenge porn!”? Will they be denied any other route than a neutered and costly in-court option when the best, most lasting results would be just to enshrine on Youtube or Imgur what they did for the world to see?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hey Google- Masnick guesses it’s ok to pull revenge porn, but please don’t touch his beloved pirate sites, mkay? We need to keep screwing over artists, after all.

As per usual, you misrepresent what is happening and what I said. You do this so frequently, it’s almost like you’re doing it on purpose, you know?

1. I didn’t say it was “ok.” I said I worried about how this would lead to more censorship, in the same way that over aggressive copyright claims do.

2. They’re doing the exact same thing they’ve always done concerning copyrighted content, so you pretending I’m saying they’re doing something different is just… wrong. Why are you always so wrong?

3. They’re not pulling down entire sites with this, but they ARE downranking sites that get lots of DMCA notices. So have no fear, Google is still treating “pirate sites” worse than revenge porn sites.

4. As I’ve explained to you, I don’t download/upload infringing works and never have. I have no “love” for pirate sites. But I do worry about the consequences of censorship — which is seen all the time by abuse of copyright law.

5. The whole “screwing over artists” thing is ridiculous. I regularly happily highlight artists who have figured out how to thrive with these new tools and services — many of whom were “screwed over” by the old system. I have no desire to screw over artists. Quite the opposite. I want them to stop acting like you do, pretending you’re a victim when the opportunities are right there in front of you. Why you refuse to do anything about it just seems strange.

I recognize that you have no desire to understand the nuances of the debate, but at least make sure you’re making accurate statements rather than lying.

I’ve asked you in the past to discuss these things, and I usually get back insults. I expect the same here.

These are serious and complicated issues and your unwillingness to even understand the basics after all these years is bizarre.

Things that make you go HMM. says:

Re: Re: Is Masnick a schizophrenic astroturfing himself?

The last several paragraphs sound like arguing with himself — besides definite trolling:
>>> These are serious and complicated issues and your unwillingness to even understand the basics after all these years is bizarre.

There’s the accusatory pejorative tone showing long acquaintance that he can’t either ignore or be rid of. And that “personality” is in total contrast with Masnick’s own sweet nature, the projection that it’s “bizarre”…

Hmm. Do his minions even exist? Have you ever seen Masnick and a minion writing at the same time?

Anonymous Coward says:

Limitations and abuse

Regarding whether it will work, I think it will not be all that helpful. Revenge porn tends to be aggregated, so if someone wants to see it, they can go to the aggregated site whether or not Google lists it. Such sites may have their own internal search, which Google obviously cannot affect. Delisting the item from Google may mitigate the problem that you run a search for “Jane Doe” hoping to find her CV and instead find revenge porn of her, but it will not do much to keep her images from strangers who are out to view/collect revenge porn without a specific person in mind.

Regarding abuse, I agree that it will likely be abused. On the other hand, until some idiot expands the DMCA to cover this (as the author correctly worries will likely be proposed), Google is doing this as a voluntary program, and they can amend the program to mitigate abuse if they decide that it is necessary. For DMCA abuse, their options for mitigating abuse are very limited if they want to benefit from its safe harbour provision. For a voluntary program, they could cancel the whole thing and face only the negative PR for the cancellation.

Initiator says:

Google abbreviating alleged "free speech" right to knowingly embarrass others will never affect anyone who stays within common decency.

Doesn’t matter whether someone knowingly allowed images to be taken. It’s the REVENGE part that steps over the line.

Since Google has this technical capability, it should be used for public good. — I guess now you see the down side of technology! — But NOT letting this use occur is not at all like Google’s pervasive spying.

And this is probably just another PR stunt. They’re a bit late on the obvious. Businesses are required to take reasonable steps so they’re not aiding crime. I bet that the BC court order, the Euro decision on site responsibility, and Hogan / Gawker suit has its lawyers re-evaluating their notion of immunity to laws.

The focus on possible effect on piracy is quite revealing. The “slippery slope” on “free speech” as usual here at Techdirt is just pirates worried they eventually won’t be able to use Google to find links to infringed content. That’s their ONLY notion of “free speech”.


Separately, since Masnick reacts to a brief comment with unusual length and specificity on copyright: BUT Masnick keeps defending Kim Dotcom with legalisms. Whether Dotcom can escape justice is separate from that only a fool could maintain Megaupload didn’t knowingly host infringed content; millions of people knew it! Okay, so Masnick doesn’t state support of infringement, just defends a known infringer. Same in practice.


More separately, the meta-view: Masnick commenting to that AC with terms that make it clear Masnick recognizes and possibly can name the person is quite similar to “revenge porn”. Masnick is using inside information to publicly disgrace a person with (alleged) prior history, and possibly reminding that he can “out” the person. That steps over the line too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Get the F_RONT Door

The problem is if they take out Google then they can take out all other search engines, and then the reach of each persons voice, unless they are a person of power, will be limited to their circles of friends. The insidious part of attacking the search engines is that they can claim they are still allowing people freedom of speech, while destroying what makes that freedom useful, the ability for strangers to find a persons speech.

Anonymous Coward says:

“…And thus, while I’m fully supportive of coming up with plans to actually end revenge porn, I’m nervous that wading into this territory will only open up a path to greater censorship and dangerous unintended consequences.”

In translation:

“While I would like to project the illusion that I care about this topic, this is Google, so… suck, suck, suck.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Identity is Fundamental

Anything that you create yourself is your private property, and under your control, until you publish it by giving a copy to somebody else. The subject of a photograph, unless it iss a selfie, are not the owners of the photograph, and granting them rights over the their image in a photograph would turn photography, especially in public place, into a minefield.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Identity is Fundamental

Maybe badly phrased, but until and unless you pass a copy to another person, or store a copy on media controlled by others, control off copying in inseparable from control over your own property, and it requires either that you lose control over you property by losing it, or someone else violating your property rights for the content to be copied. Obviously keeping copies on network connected computers poses some risks of having your content stolen, but this is low risk for most people. Being famous and having pictures you do not want other people to see on a network connected device is obviously high risk because of the value of such pictures to others.

Ken Riel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Identity is Fundamental

Images of a private intimate, or sexually explicit nature are always the property of the individual(s) they portray, in perpetuity (I think that means forever), No exceptions.

Viewing another’s private parts is undeniably a kind of sexual act. If we can’t agree on this we’re denying some pretty simple truth about ourselves.

In the physical world this is simple truth is well accepted. It is not OK to take any measure, against someone’s wishes, that will result in seeing that someone’s private parts, without the direct consent of the person who’s private parts are being viewed. Ignoring this will always result in some form of sexual assault, or at least it should.

Why then, it is any different in cyberspace? Why is it OK to post an image of someone’s private parts for others to see? How is this any different than forcing an unwilling victim to disrobe in public?

Further, it is generally accepted, in real life, that willingly agreeing to engage in an intimate act with another does not grant any sort of perpetual licence. The consent must be absolutely understood by both parties every single individual time the intimate act takes place.

What I am suggesting, no, what I am stating, is that posting revenge porn is a near equivalent of giving the keys to you EX’s apt to a rapist.

I am also stating that posting sexually explicit images of others for profit is a form of pimping. The only person who should generally be allowed to post an intimate image of a Human body is the person who is being depicted in the image.

Simple

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I think it's more complex than that.

I think it’s more complex than that.

There is no clear place in society for the voyer, though we have a billion dollar industry based on watching sex, and even mainstream media is enhanced with sexual depiction, we label it. We try to censor it. We discourage it. We disparage those who participate whether viewers or performers.

I think that yes, revenge porn is a transgression on those who did not consent to be recorded, but the severity of such a transgression is due to the anticipated response by the community. Women are ostracized for being sexual active, or even the victim of rape, let alone being caught on tape having sex. Once this gets popular, it will not only create deniability (especially if such renders can be made on the home PC by way of store-bought software), but eventually we’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that everybody has the same parts.

Really people, modern era modesty is a product of industrialized (and then automated) laundry services. Hygiene in the middle ages required that people allowed their nethers to stay aired out. Undergarments that enclosed were a thing for nobility because they could afford to have worker women wash their things daily.

The very existence of revenge porn, and our sensitivity to exposure is providing a strong argument as made by naturists, that adornment, and not nudity, is the abomination to society.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Ugh. REALLY bad editing.

Once this gets popular… in the third paragraph refers to a section I clipped out about the ability with current technology to extrapolate a human body map given enough (clothed) photograps, and with mo-cap render a convincing sex-scene between any two public figures.

It’s only a matter of time before we a) do this and b) it becomes feasable with store-bought software.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I think it's more complex than that.

Images of a private intimate, or sexually explicit nature are always the property of the individual(s) they portray, in perpetuity (I think that means forever), No exceptions.

NO they are NOT! And until you accept that premise the rest of your argument fails on it’s face.

Images are under the exclusive control of the copyright holder NOT the subjects of the photo, unless those subjects actually took the photo. Where it gets murky is if the photographer is also in the photo with another subject (ie: using a timer on the camera) though it then comes down to who pressed the button and owns the camera – though not that simple sometimes.

Viewing another’s private parts is undeniably a kind of sexual act. If we can’t agree on this we’re denying some pretty simple truth about ourselves.

Again you are wrong and generalising. A doctor views a patients ‘private parts”, an artist painting a nude does as well. The list goes on. What instead you should be stating is the mens rae of viewing for purient purposes is Generally considered a sexual act.

What I am suggesting, no, what I am stating, is that posting revenge porn is a near equivalent of giving the keys to you EX’s apt to a rapist.
Ah.. I wondered when the Godwin of Revenge porn would appear here ie: the word rape(ist). Rape is not in any way comparable to what is happening here, and to conflate rape with this is deplorable.

Yes it is morally repugnant and societally wrongful for someone to intentionally post unwanted images of someone to embarass, humiliate and harrass someone else. Though thankfully we already have laws against that. USE THEM! But to equate it with rape is abhorent.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I think it's more complex than that.

oh kee-rist on a crutch…
i got an idea, EVERYONE must take nudies of themselves and post them on their mandatory farcebook page and then no one will have anything on anyone and everyone will be equally humiliated…
there, will that finally settle this silly shit ? ? ?

oh, and to the poster kindly re-defining sexual assault as viewing a nudie of someone, please take a long walk off a short pier, as we used to say…

i am first in line when it comes to NOT wanting nude pix of myself for the world to point at, tsktsk*, and -worst of all- make judgments on my pitiful meatbag of a body… BUT, is the world seeing my ‘junk’ really going to be so humiliating that i simply can’t go on ? ? ?

does EVERYTHING have to be so melodramatic and life-threatening ? ? ? we have such boring lives we have to gin up bullshit drama to make it seem ‘exciting’, and that our lives have some significance ? ? ?

people really need more chores to do, rather than hang around on the inertnet tubes all day scouting for outrage eruptions…

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Sensitivity.

Obviously (Is it obvious? It should be) some people are more sensitive to their bits getting publicized than others, and in the case of those actresses who are hot property as love interests, the first nude scene is a one-shot commodity.

And we currently have an excess of bosses who want all their employees to be pristine and conformist to their morality clauses.

So yeah, in the current circumstances, I can completely understand sensitivity to being publicized without consent.

But I’m very sure it’s cultural. It’s due to contemporary societal circumstances, and that this would be much less an issue in a different (I think, better) more-relaxed era.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Identity is Fundamental

“Viewing another’s private parts is undeniably a kind of sexual act. If we can’t agree on this we’re denying some pretty simple truth about ourselves.”

Anybody in the medical profession, gynaecologists, urologists and sexual health experts in particular, would roll their eyes at your “simple truth”. Not to mention family members or friends seeing each other naked or people using communal showers in gyms. Your thoughts on the topic are passionate but very simplistic.

Pai Mei (profile) says:

Bandaid on a gunshot wound

This won’t work if Google is the only search engine doing it. Anything that’s only blocked from showing up on Google Search is still accessible on every other search engine that isn’t blocking it. This is little more than a tactic on Google’s part to appear to be doing something about a problem that won’t be solved by Google.

Ken Riel (profile) says:

Humanity trumps IP

You’s guys is all wrong. It’s not about copyright, It’s about Human rights, and that has to trump any scheme that turns property into an idea.

The subjects consent to be viewed is the core issue. It is a basic Human right not to be oogled for sexual purposes, or for any other purpose really. This is a basic element of respect for your neighbors and kind of a fundamental of civilization itself. From a Human or Humanitarian perspective it is simply the right way to do things.

It is not OK to betray someones trust in this way just because your magic camera makes it easy to do so.

Think of our social contract and how that works as we relate with each other. When we do identify someone we don’t trust we isolate ourselves from them or them from us in some way. In our daily live we trust each other not to run into a dressing room and tear down the curtain deliberately exposing an individual to the world, even if it would be easy to do… especially if it would be easy to do.

We don’t tolerate child porn, and we shouldn’t tolerate any other kinds of porn where the subjects are victims of a betrayal of Human trust.

Simple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Humanity trumps IP

You’s guys is all wrong. It’s not about copyright, It’s about Human rights, and that has to trump any scheme that turns property into an idea.

Free speech is, or should be a human right, while being able to avoid being embarrassed by past actions is not. Therefore the human rights argument says the subjects of the photos have to deal with the embarrassment.
I remind free speech should not be limited by what other people find objectionable, as if it is it ceases to be free speech. That is not to sat somebody cannot be held responsible for the consequences of their speech; shout “fire” or any other speech that can cause a panic in a crowded cinema without reason and you should be held responsible for all resulting injuries and deaths cause by you irresponsible action, and not the wrds you used.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Humanity trumps IP

If speech should not be limited by what other people find objectionable,then how/why is there such a thing as “objectionable material”?. How are there obscenity laws?.

From wikipedia “In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, such as on libel, slander, obscenity, incitement to commit a crime, etc.”

See there are many ways that this is wrong, and no real way that it is right.

P.S. https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/shout-fire-in-a-crowded-theatre

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Humanity trumps IP

The problem with all forms of censorship, and this is censorship, is the ease of abuse, and lack of due process when stifling speech. Look at just how far individual privacy is being eroded due to governments fighting terrorism, and they way they twist words so that promoting a change in the law become terrorism, and small bomb become weapon of mass destruction.
Especially when dealing with governments, absolutes have to be defended, less they use relative harm to remove freedoms; or as someone once said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Currently governments are laying the paving blocks on that road as fast as they can.
Further an unofficial arrangement, like this one by Google, is even more open to abuse by various vested interests, which includes governments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Humanity trumps IP

How’s that tin-foil hat working out buddy, tight round the ears is it.

The problem with a blanket defence of free speech is that inevitably, like now, you have to try and defend the indefensible. Look at all the slut-shaming and victim blaming in this thread.
I see that you are on a campaign against the erosion of meaning, and that’s cool, but in this particular instance you’re standing beside some dodgy motherfuckers.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Humanity trumps IP

Part of the problem is that genuine revenge porn (as opposed to manufactured revenge porn featuring paid actresses) is really hard to detect or differentiate.

Even with child porn, we get a lot of pictures flagged as false positives, whether they are young-looking adult actors / actresses, naturist photography, news events featuring underaged people (e.g. Phan Thi Kim Phuc, Thylane Blondeau, et. al.) and porn featuring fictional children such as cartoon characters.

So a large part of the problem is a matter of enforcement. Laws and policies to censor tend to expand to include every possible imaginable interpretation of its target subject, including ultimately things that don’t fit. And this is before the function of such policies creep to censor for other qualities.

So, generally, it’s better to censor less than more, if at all.

John85851 (profile) says:

A stupid decision on Google's part

I’m all for ending revenge porn, but I think Google de-listing any site is a stupid idea, and this includes the “right to be forgotten”.

It seems like most people, including Google, have forgotten one important thing: Google is the Internet version of a card-catalog (and this is very important): removing something from a card catalog does not remove the source. Okay, sure, removing something from Google makes it harder to find, but people will still find it if they look hard enough. And making something harder for everyone to find makes it harder for law enforcement to find and arrest the people breaking the law.

So by all means, de-list the revenge porn sites and force them onto the dark web, where it’s even harder to find the people who run the site.

Ken Riel (profile) says:

Re: A stupid decision on Google's part

I agree with your take on de-listing to an extant. I’m arguing for an escalation, I’m saying that posting revenge porn is nearly the same thing as posting kiddy porn. I’m saying that giving consent to appear in an intimate image does not in any way imply consent to distribute that image, and for the person in possession of the intimate image to ignore that simple truth constitutes a kind of date-rape.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: A stupid decision on Google's part

And this is why it’s impossible to take you seriously, as you continue to make ridiculous comparisons.

‘A kind of date rape‘, ‘nearly the same thing as posting kiddy porn’?

Revenge porn is nasty, but what is ultimately a betrayal of trust regarding sharing consensualy taken pictures of adults doesn’t even come remotely close to either of those, and you shoot your own arguments in the foot by claiming it is.

Ken Riel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 A stupid decision on Google's part

We can substitute the term ‘sexual assault’ for rape. And obviously this would apply more to the person who originally let the images free. Perhaps just knowingly distributing them without being the original betrayer is more akin to being an accessory to a criminal act.

Anyway, being involved in this betrayal is a wrong thing to do. The original perpetrators at least should face some degree of criminal scrutiny.

And I am saying that supporting the distribution of these kinds of images is also wrong.

And I’m saying that the only good way to correct this injustice is by granting licence for such images only to the persons depicted in the images.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 A stupid decision on Google's part

And I’m saying that the only good way to correct this injustice is by granting licence for such images only to the persons depicted in the images.

You think these people would stop doing this if they didn’t have a valid license to post the photos? That sounds absolutely laughable.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 No pics, no problem.

One should not have to wear clothes to the shower to protect their privacy.

One should not have to avoid sexts and nude pictures to keep them from escaping to the open internet.

One should not have to avoid wearing their fancy shoes in order to keep from getting robbed of their shoes.

People should be more cautious is a temporary workaround, not a bug-fix.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Fixing the bug

We’re already seeing a push for robust end-to-end cryptography, which is going to fix one part of the problem, much to the chagrin of the alphabet agencies.

I suspect the Millenials are also going to be kinder and gentler to those public figures who have nudes on the internet, because a lot of us will have nudes on the internet, and enough people will either be nude online or know people who are to know it doesn’t really speak to how well they can act on camera or govern a state.

( In my futurist fantasies, we’ll actually reach a point that someone whose online footprint is scant may be a sign of suspicion (of being a chatbot) much the way that I get askance looks for not having a Facebook account. )

In the meantime, I’d like to say caution is a matter of risk assessment. If your gains from a sext-intensive relationship with your boyfriend is worth the risk damages from your nudes getting publicized, then do it and enjoy and know you’re taking a risk. People climb far-off mountains and jump out of airplanes, risking much more for much shorter-term thrill.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It seems to me that “taking away their copyright” is a near effortless and risk free start to a practical solution.

First, changing copyright law in this way is likely to be anything but effortless. Second, there are definitely risks of unintended consequences. Third, I can see no likelihood that this would actually do anything to address the issue. It would be in the category of “something must be done, this is something, therefore it must be done”.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Can you share an imagined an harmful unintended consequence?

If someone had the photos taken with the understanding they might be shared and later changed their mind. They could then abuse your proposed law to have them taken down.

What if the consequences of centering copyright law on the one digital ‘thing’ that a person should have exclusive rights to, were, on balance, a good thing?

Firstly, I disagree that there is only one digital thing a person should have exclusive rights to, and I also don’t think you’ve demonstrated that this belongs on that list. Secondly, if it should be reasonably demonstrated that the positive effects of such a change would outweigh the negative, I would support it.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Can you share an imagined an harmful unintended consequence?
If a picture of a person appeared in a news article, and the person didn’t like how they were portrayed in the article, they might retract the license for the picture from the news source. If the news source was a newspaper and the printed paper was already distributed, that would be difficult for the paper to handle.

What about if an actor/actress didn’t like how they were portrayed in the final edit of a movie they performed in? What are the implications if they can retract their permission for their likeness in the film (hint- the courts studied this one recently).

How would this affect professional portrait photographers? If the person in the photo holds the copyright, would the photographer be compelled to hand over the high quality images without payment? What does it mean if the holder of the copyright doesn’t even own a copy?

What if the consequences of centering copyright law on the one digital ‘thing’ that a person should have exclusive rights to, were, on balance, a good thing?
What if we had the power to make people forget things that we didn’t want them to remember? What if that was, on balance, a good thing?

I’d suggest that convincing other people that a particular simplified view of part of a law is a good thing is best done by examining the consequences, rather than just asking “what if it was, though?”

Ken Riel (profile) says:

The ‘natural copyright’ to intimate and/or sexual images is one of perpetual prerogative, the subject has an inalienable right to change their mind at any time for any reason, or even for no reason at all.

Even if we have permission at one time to post an image, the subject still maintains the right to demand it be removed at any time. This might make it difficult to run a website or other business that uses these sorts of images as a product, but oh well.

Posting an intimate or private image of a person without that person’s direct permission should be a much more serious crime than posting a copy of a song that has already been sold ten thousand times to ten thousand others, no comparison.

I’m not suggesting rights to digital depictions of ones body (DNA, iris, fingerprints included) are the only rights we have, I’m suggesting that this is where our natural Human rights should start in the new digital domain.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The ‘natural copyright’ to intimate and/or sexual images is one of perpetual prerogative, the subject has an inalienable right to change their mind at any time for any reason, or even for no reason at all.

Even if we have permission at one time to post an image, the subject still maintains the right to demand it be removed at any time. This might make it difficult to run a website or other business that uses these sorts of images as a product, but oh well.

On what possible basis do you make this claim? What is the test for an “intimate and/or sexual image”? Would a picture of someone’s face showing some intimate emotion (sadness, love, despair) qualify? What about a silhouette that has no identifying features?

As discussed above, just because you can’t imagine how such a law would be misused, or perhaps because you imagine that it will provide greater good than harm, doesn’t make it a good law.

Posting an intimate or private image of a person without that person’s direct permission should be a much more serious crime than posting a copy of a song that has already been sold ten thousand times to ten thousand others, no comparison.
Perhaps it should, but copyright is not the law you’re looking for.

I’m not suggesting rights to digital depictions of ones body (DNA, iris, fingerprints included) are the only rights we have, I’m suggesting that this is where our natural Human rights should start in the new digital domain.

Now this is a very interesting discussion tangential to the topic of the article, but I’ll limit it to: Why do you think you should have rights to digital depictions of these things, when you don’t obviously have any rights to their analog depictions? Every day, every single one of us leaves behind tens of thousands of copies of many parts of our body – fingerprints, hair, skin cells, mucous, footprints, people seeing us as we cross the street and remembering what we look like.

Ken Riel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I should be careful with ambiguity between the words personal and private. And the word private needs to be inserted in the first line of the post above.

This claim then, with the word ‘private’ included, is about both where and in what context an image is taken, even more so than it’s about what the image depicts. In most cases just being taken in a completely private setting should give the subjects of an image absolute rights about its use.

The ownership of such images and other obviously private records cannot be in question. It is the most absolute form of copyright, and the most absolute Human right in cyberspace.

To suggest that actual traces and live memories of ourselves we leave behind in the physical world carry the same weight as the infinitely propagating absolute records of the digital realm is absurd. Not to mention the privacy issues of an actor obtaining any of the above listed samples from a subjects personal space.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This claim then, with the word ‘private’ included, is about both where and in what context an image is taken, even more so than it’s about what the image depicts. In most cases just being taken in a completely private setting should give the subjects of an image absolute rights about its use.

So now the copyright status of a photo is based on where the photo is taken? What if a photo is taken in a forest, with nobody else around? The house of the photographer, rather than the subject? A public toilet?

What should be the copyright status of compromising photos taken of a partner by a private investigator, for the purposes of divorce proceedings? Would that preclude the photos being shown in a courtroom, if the subject of the photo refuses to license their use?

Even aside from all of this, you’ve so far neglected to comment on any of the harm that such a change to copyright would cause, no matter the discriminating factor. There’s no point drafting laws to patch one hole over here, if you’re just pulling the material and creating new holes over there.

The ownership of such images and other obviously private records cannot be in question.

Or else what? I suspect that you’re using a novel definition of “cannot” here.

Look, I’m not disagreeing with the premise that revenge porn is wrong, amongst other confidence betrayals. I just think that your proposed solution is neither a good idea, nor even a solution.

To suggest that actual traces and live memories of ourselves we leave behind in the physical world carry the same weight as the infinitely propagating absolute records of the digital realm is absurd.

I completely agree, the actual traces and live memories obviously carry much more weight than digital records of the same. You can’t create an actual trace from a digital record (yet).

Not to mention the privacy issues of an actor obtaining any of the above listed samples from a subjects personal space.

Personal space? You mean the seat of the bus I took to work this morning? Or the door that I just pushed open to enter a store? Or heck, even the paper cup I just threw in the bin?

I have no objections to suggestions of how to address problems from being bandied about, but it would be helpful if you could examine at least some of the unintended ramifications, as well as the ones you expressly intend.

Ken Riel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The forest would be a public space obviously, and if there’s no one else around then who’s taking the pic?. Remote cam or live observer either one establishes a public situation, unless the subject set up a tent or some other personal space and that was violated.

It makes no difference who’s house this takes place at, it only matters that this is a private situation, and that if your going to use the images publicly you need permission from the subjects depicted. Public vs Private, note the distinction.

The private eye photo scenario, why would this be any different than the law is now? Seems like a red herring.

Cannot is a simple imperative. I’m suggesting that we the people must get a grip on these very issues of our identity and rights in a digital world, and seize ownership of the information that makes up our invidual selves in the information economy.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Cannot is a simple imperative. I’m suggesting that we the people must get a grip on these very issues of our identity and rights in a digital world, and seize ownership of the information that makes up our invidual selves in the information economy.

Very emotive language. I don’t disagree with you, but through which mechanism, and at what cost? What does ownership look like, what rights does it come with (and which of those are transferable)… and how can you even own information? What are the consequences of someone else having access to the information? Having the same information independent of you?

Level heads must prevail (there’s an imperative for you), or the situation is only ever made worse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why only porn?

The purpose of removing revenge porn is that it causes embarrassment, correct? Well, there is plenty of non-porn material out there causing embarrassment as well. Shouldn’t the same justification apply to removing this embarrassing non-porn material as well? I can’t imagine why not.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why only porn?

…while ‘personal’ is central to privacy and is not really subject to interpretation.

Yes it is. Very much so.

What an exhibitionist considers personal and private is very different from what I consider personal and private.

What an devote Muslim considers personal and private is also very different from what I consider personal and private.

“Personal” is very much so subject to interpretation. The root of that word is “person”, not community. It’s a subjective thing and everyone’s views are not the same as yours.

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