Google

Lately the news has been full of striking examples of how the Internet has been turned into a potent tool to abuse women; providing perpetrators with the anonymity to remotely stalk, harass, extort or post indecent images that are instantly available to the world and extremely difficult to take down. The UK Crown Prosecution Service noted in a recent report, detailing a record increase in the number of people prosecuted for violence against women and girls, that the use of the Internet to target women is a common motif.

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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.

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