Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

What Israel’s New ‘Revenge Porn’ Ban Means

Posting photos of an ex without consent could lead to up to five years in prison

Print Email

One of Israel’s first measures of the new year has been outlawing revenge porn, the practice of posting naked or otherwise incriminating photographs or videos of an ex-lover online to a public site. MK Yifat Kariv of Yesh Atid, currently serving her first term in office, led the amendment, calling the practice of uploading nude images of an ex “virtual rape.”

According to the new law, offenders who upload photos or videos without the consent of their partner can face up to five years in prison, and the victim will be eligible for up to 50,000 NIS without proof of damage, and higher compensation if damages are proven, explains Elad Peled, a lecturer of defamation law and head of the research division at Lexidale International Policy Consulting. “The publisher may enjoy a defense where the publication was made with good faith, or for a legitimate cause, or where it raises public concern.”

While the legislation is similar to bills proposed in New Jersey and New York—and already adopted in California—the measures are being approached differently in the two countries. The Israeli law amends Israel’s Bill for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment, whereas New Jersey’s law, for example, is being classified as an “invasion of privacy” law.

Jordan Kovnot, adjunct professor of Internet Law at Fordham Law School and attorney at OlenderFeldman LLP, explained that the reason victims of revenge porn had little recourse in the past is because of the “Communications Decency Act” from the 1990s, which enabled websites to make decisions about editing inappropriate content. “Unlike a print magazine which exercises editorial control, Congress wanted websites to freely edit out or delete comments that they found objectionable without fear that they could be sued.” So when it comes to revenge porn, which is typically posted to third-party sites, the website is legally protected from having to remove the content. “They can choose to, but they don’t have to. If you’re in the business of revenge porn, you’re not likely to be sympathetic to their concern.”

Hence the new laws. None of the American legislation attempts to change the legal framework; all of them instead address instead the person posting the offensive material. In California, as of October 1, 2013, a jilted ex might want to think twice before recording and posting a photo of the girl who left him—it could land him in jail for up to one year, plus a $1,000 fine.

“Many legislators have historically been hesitant to impose restrictions on the internet, which has thrived largely because it has been regulated by a light touch,” says Kovnot, “but you see A few instances where legislators are willing to buck that trend”—such as laws protecting children’s rights online, or legislation addressing pirated music and movies.

“This is the next wave of laws that we’re going to start seeing around the country. The victims here are typically very sympathetic. They trusted someone, that trust was broken in a devastated way, and up until now they have had very few options for recourse,” says Kovnot. Legislation against revenge porn, even photos taken by the victim, protects those who make decisions in the blush of a relationship, not thinking of a time when that blush might wear off.

Print Email

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

What Israel’s New ‘Revenge Porn’ Ban Means

Posting photos of an ex without consent could lead to up to five years in prison

More on Tablet:

In San Francisco and in Palestine, It’s Time To Grow Up and Take Responsibility

By Liel Leibovitz — From smashing Google Glasses to rejecting peace talks, failing to understand natural rights is leading to some very dark places