A proliferation of digital media has I believe dulled the senses of those persons who have or will be implicated in the perpetration of a new and unpleasant phenomenon known as “revenge porn”. It is described today by Iain Wilson in the Law Gazette as;

“the unauthorised and malicious dissemination of intimate images (photographs or video) on the internet”

Very often the victim is featured naked or having sex in an image taken by themselves or their partner when they were in a relationship. The relationship goes sour and images which were seen as acceptable when the relationship was going well suddenly become weapons of embarrassment, hurt and occasionally harassment.

The person who is wishing to exact revenge usually publishes the image via a website, forum or social media of some description. The object of publishing is to punish, the object of the threat to publish is to control.

Causes of action against a perpetrator would include a claim for breach of Article 8  of the European Convention of Human Rights of the reasonable expectation of privacy which will usually override any Defendant argument about their rights to freedom of expression under Article 10. The Claimant can claim for injury to feelings and distress.

In addition there may be a possible claim for misuse of private information (a claim in tort) which would open up the possibility of an award of exemplary damages. Exemplary damages are further awards made by the court over and above the normal level to further compensate the claimant where the Defendant is shown to be guilty of “outrageous conduct”. Having said that the leading case of Rookes v Barnard from 1964 makes the circumstances under which such awards are made, quite narrow.

It is estimated that over 380 billion images were taken in 2012 mostly with camera-phones. These “revenge” incidents seem so unpleasant but I often wonder if the unabated exposure to such a myriad of digital images and methods of viewing them has left us all a little anaesthetised to the powerful and damaging effect that they can sometimes have.

We have acted for individuals who have brought actions in such circumstances and this piece simply describes one aspect of dealing with the perpetrators of “revenge porn”. There are injunctions that can be sought against publishers and website operators and possibly even internet service providers, not to mention criminal remedies. I will talk more about these issues later this week.

If you, a member of your family or someone you know has been the victim of this insidious phenomenon then we can help.  Please feel free to call me on 0800 1 444 111, email me at michaelshaw@cmsolicitors.co.uk or simply use the form on this page.