Google will remove revenge porn images from search results

Yesterday Google announced it would stop its searches linking to “revenge porn” images if requested by a person whose image has been posted without consent.  We applaud Google for taking this important step.

We’ve been working to fight revenge porn, through representing clients like Chrissy Chambers and in campaigning, lobbying and giving speeches in the US and UK trying to make this practice a clear violation of the law both criminal and civil.   Google’ new policy clearly focuses on the consent of the person as the standard, which is better than the one used in many criminal statutes including the new one we worked to pass in Britain. They only punish the perpetrator if he intends to “cause distress” to the person depicted, and don’t offer any way to get the images taken down – leaving no practical recourse for someone whose images were hacked, or reposted for “kicks,” or because sites make money spreading them around.  Really, a better term than “revenge porn” for describing all of these cruel practices is “non-consensual pornography.”  By removing non-consensual pornographic images from its search results as Google has now agreed to do, it will help starve them of the oxygen they need to spread, and steer the internet away from permitting anonymous cowards to make people’s lives a living hell with impunity.

In the long run, we’d like to see the default position of internet hosts switch so that affirmative proof that the sex depicted is consensual (like a brief video clip of the people depicted stating they want to be in it, and showing their ID) is required before sexually explicit images get posted.  (There’s already a default position against child porn, which all responsible internet companies readily enforce.)  This would allow total freedom of expression for those who want to express themselves with sexual images, and protect victims of non-consensual ones from having to fight to take down images that never should have been posted in the first place (and once images are posted, anyone can copy and download them and they’re never really gone). Meanwhile, our firm, will continue to fight for brave victims of non-consensual pornography like Chrissy Chambers and campaign to extend the law’s protections so that this practice dies away.