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In the U.K., sharing revenge porn could send you to jail for 14 years

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It’s not a change in the law—just a clarification.

Under new guidance issued by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Britons who share revenge porn on the Internet could be jailed for up to 14 years.

No new laws have been introduced—but in an admission that current statutes are unclear, CPS has issued a statement aiming to “set out clearly how these cases should be brought to caught.” Those accused of sharing revenge porn—media of sexual nature, often consensually created then shared after the end of a relationship without the subject’s knowledge or consent—will be prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act in the most serious instances, allowing for sentences of up to 14 years. 

These include cases where “revenge porn” is used to coerce individuals into further sexual acts.

Prosecuting cases of revenge porn have proved a headache for authorities: Naked Security reports that in the last two and a half years in Britain there have been almost 150 allegations of incidents of revenge porn—but only six have led to any kind of prosecution.

British tabloid the Sun has recently launched a campaign to have revenge porn classified as a sex crime, and U.K. MP called for action earlier in 2014 to have it classified as “clearly illegal.” Often victims of the phenomenon are forced to protect themselves using copyright law—as it is frequently the subject who took the photo, the copyright to the media is technically theirs. Jennifer Lawrence used an analogous argument to force the takedown of leaked intimate photos of herself in the episode known as “Celebgate,” a recent high-profile incident of non-consensual pornography.

Lawrence has since gone on to describe those who disseminate the photos as guilty of “sex crimes”—reminiscent of the words of rapper Iggy Azalea, who responded to attempts by her ex-partner to sell a sex tape of them in forthright fashion:

It’s likely that there will be attempts to introduce legislation in the British Parliament to have the dissemination of revenge porn a crime in its own right, but for now CPS wants to ensure that incidents should not be ignored over uncertainty on how to handle them. “No one should have to suffer the hurt and humiliation of ‘revenge pornography,'” says CPS’s statement. The new guidance hopes to ensure that “the public, and indeed those intent of attacking former partners in this way, can now see clearly that this is a crime that can and will be prosecuted.”

Revenge porn is already explictly legislated against in Israel, Canada and California.

H/T Naked Security | Photo via Karin4758 / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0) | Remix by Rob Price

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Rob Price

Rob Price

Rob Price is a technology and politics reporter who served as the U.K.-based morning editor for the Daily Dot until 2014. He now works as the news editor for Business Insider, and his work has appeared in Vice, Slate, the Washington Post, and the Independent.