Revenge Porn Update
April 26, 2018 By: Natasha Chettiar Read Time: 2 minutes
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Last year, Erin Kelley wrote a series of three blog posts outlining the potential civil, criminal, and family law consequences of so-called “revenge porn” – the practice of sharing intimate photographs and videos of your partner online without their consent. You can read part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here. Stéphane Sérafin also recently published a blog on how revenge porn is treated under Quebec law. You can read that post here.

Revenge Porn

Manitoba law suit

Today, the CBC reported the story of Brittany Roque, a Manitoba woman who recently learned that her prospective employer had been sent intimate images of her without her knowledge or consent. Roque was applying for a position with the Brandon Police Service in southern Manitoba when she found out that images she sent by text message to a male Brandon police officer while they were having an affair had been shared with the Brandon Police Service. The culprit? Not the male police officer, but a woman who had been romantically involved with the male officer at the time Roque had the affair with him. She found Roque’s images on his computer, made copies, and distributed them without Roque’s consent.

Roque has started a court claim against the woman, seeking damages, as well as a court injunction ordering anyone who may have copies of her intimate images to destroy them and refrain from distributing them any further.

The rise of “revenge porn”

Taking and sharing intimate images using smartphones and direct messaging applications has become a normalized part of romantic relationships – however, with the rise of technology-aided intimacy, the scope for abusive, controlling, and vengeful behaviour has widened. Last year, The Guardian reported that Facebook reviewed more than 54,000 reports of revenge porn and “sextortion” in a single month, leading to the disabling of more than 14,000 accounts. Revenge porn is not limited to social media – there are dozens of websites, forums, and businesses built on the sharing of non-consensual photos and videos, drawing in substantial advertising revenue. Users are invited to “submit their ex”, photos and videos are described as “wins” if the subjects are nude, and the images typically include derogatory descriptions and identify the subjects by first and last name.

The harm caused by revenge porn is serious. The dissemination of private images can lead to significant mental distress, ongoing reputational damage, and additional harassment and threats from third parties. Even if images are never posted publicly, threats to post such images can be used to coerce, control, and intimidate.

While few revenge porn cases have been taken to court in Canada, victims across North America are fighting back. On April 4, 2018, a United States District Court in California awarded a woman $6.4 million in damages after intimate images of her were published online by her ex without her permission.


We can help

Have you been impacted by revenge porn? Are you concerned that the intimate photos or videos you once shared with a partner might still exist and might be used against you? Contact us. Our Family Law and Litigation teams can help.

You can read the full CBC story on Brittany Roque here, and the California decision here.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2018 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.