Google cracks down on revenge porn

The search giant will allow victims to submit requests for links to be removed from search results

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The Independent Tech

Google has made the decision to clamp down on revenge porn, allowing victims to put in requests to have content involving them taken down.

Revenge porn is a growing problem worldwide, and is usually made by a scorned ex-partner uploading explicit pictures or videos of their former partner to the internet without their permission.

Some of these images make their way on to porn sites, but others can surface on 'sextortion' sites, that charge the people in the pictures a fee for them to be taken down.

Google has sometimes been resistant to take down links from its search results, as it aims to reflect the whole internet.

 

However, in the coming weeks, a form will be avaible to victims that they can fill out to submit requests for content to be taken down.

The offending images won't be completely removed from the internet, but the links will not appear in Google results, making them much harder to find.

In a blog post announcing the move, Senior Vice President of Google Search, Amit Singhal, writes: "Revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims - predominantly women."

"So going forward, we'll honour requests from people to remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results."

"This is a narrow and limited policy, similar to how we treat removal requests for other highly sensitive personal information, such as bank account numbers and signatures, that may surface in our search results."

"We know this solution won't solve the problem of revenge porn - we aren't able, of course, to remove these images from the websites themselves - but we hope that honouring people's requests to remove such imagery from our search results can help."

Up until recently, there was no specific law against revenge porn - prosecutions and arrests were extremely rare, as the main offence it would fall under was harassment, which usually requires a sustained campaign of incidents to be applicable.

As many revenge porn cases are one-offs, it was hard to prosecute culprits. However, an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 made it specifically illegal to distribute a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress.

The maximum sentence for distributing revenge porn is two years. In November, 21-year-old Luke King was jailed for 12 weeks for harassment without violence after he sent explicit pictures of a woman to others via WhatsApp, becoming the first person to be jailed for distributing revenge porn.

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