What is Revenge Porn?
This is a popular term used to describe the sharing of sexually intimate or explicit images that are either stolen, shared or otherwise distributed without the consent of the person(s) in the images. Along with a victim’s personal images, it is not uncommon for other personal information to be shared as well, such as their name, address or place of work. Any individual could be a victim to this, however, women are more likely to be targeted than men. As there is stigma and embarrassment surrounding this act, many individuals will often stay quiet or adhere to the offenders demands in order to have the images removed.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, section 162.1(1) deals with this offence. It states that it is a criminal offence to publish, transmit, distribute, sell, advertise or make available an intimate image of another person without that person’s consent. Publication, etc., of an intimate image without consent is a hybrid offence. This means the Crown may elect to proceed summarily or by indictment, depending on the nature and severity of the offence, as well as when the offence occurred. Where the Crown elects to proceed by indictment the accused will face enhanced penalties upon conviction.
What is an Intimate Image?
Section 162.1(2) of the Criminal Code provides a definition of intimate image. Typically, this is a picture or recording of someone in which they are either nude, partially nude or engaged in explicit sexual activity. Usually, the circumstances for these images or recordings are that the individual made them under the reasonable expectation that they would be private. What truly encompasses an “intimate image” is a question of interpretation, as the Criminal Code specifies that if there is no depiction of explicit sexual activity, the individual must be exposing his or her genitals or breasts to fit the definition.
It is also important to note that an intimate image can be in permanent form, such as a printed or digital photo, or video, but can also be a disappearing image such as a Snapchat or Facetime call. If these images are kept and shared on websites, to other people, or are sold, then this is a breach of the expected reasonable privacy.