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California Attorney General Starts Initiative To Combat “Revenge Porn”

Kamala Harris, the attorney general of California, has teamed up with tech companies like Google and Microsoft to curb cyber exploitation.

California Attorney General Starts Initiative To Combat “Revenge Porn”
[Photo: Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images]

On Wednesday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced an initiative to tackle the recurring issue of cyber exploitation and lend support to its victims. Cyber exploitation has become more commonly known as “revenge porn,” and it refers to someone posting intimate photos or video of another person without their consent, usually under the guise of “getting back” at ex-girlfriends or -boyfriends. A joint effort between Harris’s office, tech companies, law enforcement agencies, and advocacy groups, the cyber exploitation hub will provide online resources to victims, including a best practices guide compiled by tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

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“Posting intimate images online without consent is a cowardly crime that humiliates and belittles victims,” Harris said during a press conference. “These new tools will assist law enforcement in combating cyber exploitation and support victims in seeking justice.” The cyber exploitation hub outlines the specific policies of major tech companies, offering victims explicit guidelines on how to submit take-down requests and have their information removed from Google search results or social media sites like Facebook.

Harris also made a point of explaining the task force’s choice of language, and their deliberate decision to break away from the “porn” association. “The victims of that crime are not engaged in pornography,” Harris said. “And there is no behavior they have been engaged in that deserves revenge.”

Harris is known for having secured the criminal prosecution of Kevin Bollaert, the first case of its kind; this April, Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years in prison for operating the site UGotPosted.com and posting nude photos of women along with their contact information.

The inclusion of prominent tech firms in Harris’s initiative aligns with a general trend over the past year, as online harassment has increased to a level that companies can’t ignore. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit have all taken a clear stance on cyber exploitation, opting to remove content posted without permission on a per-request basis.

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About the author

Pavithra Mohan is an assistant editor for Fast Company Digital. Her writing has previously been featured in Gizmodo and Popular Science magazine.

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