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Cultural Minister Says Sharing Snapchats Non-Consensually May Lead to Prison Time

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Culture Minister Edward Vaizey answered a question on the UK’s Parliament site recently about whether or not he’ll “take steps to prevent Snapchat images being made public without the consent of the image owner.” Vaizey responded that not only is sharing these images a legal offense, it’s one that may earn prison time:

Under UK copyright law, it would be unlawful for a Snapchat user to copy an image and make it available to the public without the consent of the image owner. The image owner would be able to sue anyone who does this for copyright infringement.

Snapchat photos are automatically deleted after 10 seconds. The Snapchat Privacy Policy states that if Snapchat is able to detect that a recipient has taken a screenshot of an image, they will try to inform the original poster. However, Snapchat advises users to avoid sending messages which they would not want to be saved or shared.

The disclosure of private sexual photographs or films without the consent of an individual who appears in them and with intent to cause that individual distress, is an offence under Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Those convicted could face a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Because Snapchat photos “disappear” after a set amount of time, the app became a popular vehicle for sexting. While Snapchat does try to tell you whether or not the recipient will screenshot the image, there are ways to side-step that, and there’s very little you can do about it, anyway. The act Vaizey cited states that disclosing a private sexual photograph or film without the consent of the individual who appears in the photograph/film “with the intention of causing that individual distress” (AKA revenge porn) is an offense.

There are more actions being taken towards penalizing and fighting revenge porn, but there’s obviously still a lot of work to be done both legally and socially. It’s a valuable thing to see someone in power talk about this in serious terms and emphasize that there are very real legal consequences for non-consensual posting and I hope it carries over and continues in actual cases and public attitudes.

(via Buzzfeed)

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