One Nation, Two Laws

You may have seen that publicly publishing explicit photographs of someone without their consent has now been made illegal under laws to combat revenge porn. What you might not have considered is how this will effect those publications that print explicit photographs of celebrities taken by paparazzi.

Funnily enough the first wave of calls for a law against what has become known as ‘revenge porn’ came only after celebrities such as Rihanna and Tulisa had their home made videos leaked and shared online. As more and more ordinary people, including a shocking number of under age people, fell victim to the same sort of treatment, public opinion swang heavily in favour of legislation. The formation of websites set up specifically to encourage the posting of such videos in order to get back at people’s exes was the final straw and soon enough a law against publishing revenge porn was added to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. What no one seemed to consider was that newspapers and magazines had been doing a very similar thing for decades.

The number of Z list celebrity women who have fallen foul of paparazzi who have no moral problem with lying down on the pavement so that they can photograph up these women’s skirts is truly shocking. How they get away with even taking these photos is beyond me, especially given that there have numerous successful prosecutions against voyeurs who do the sane thing against ordinary women in the supermarket. The fact is, these photos are (usually) taken without consent and the fact that they are taken to be sold to the newspapers should be no defence to a similar prosecution.

I was curious if the revenge porn law would have an unintended effect of clamping down on this activity so I took a look into it. Unfortunately it will do nothing to protect young women from this treatment at all. The Government advice fact sheet on revenge porn states that the law makes it illegal to publicly publish photographs which were taken privately and with consent, but shared without the consent of the person pictured and with malicious intent. But the effect of this is frankly bizarre. It seems that we now live in a society where it is illegal to take a picture up a woman’s skirt if you are a voyeur, but it is perfectly fine to do the same if you are a member of the paparazzi. And if you take an explicit photo with consent, and then publish it without then you are liable to prosecution, but if you take the same photo without consent and then publish it, again without consent, then that isn’t a problem at all

The fact is, no-one should have their photo taken without their consent, and they certainly shouldn’t have explicit photos taken without their consent. As for publishing them, the same should apply. There should be no need to show malicious intent, and it shouldn’t matter whether you are a world class photographer or Joe Bloggs with a camera phone. Publishing photos, especially explicit ones, should never be done against that person’s wishes.

How could there be any argument about this? How could the government even need telling? Any reasonable person should just know. You don’t treat people that way.

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