Amber Heard, herself a victim of the 2014 photo hack that saw intimate photos of numerous celebrities leaked to Reddit, has written a New York Times op-ed about the need for federal legislation around revenge porn. Actually, she'd prefer we use new terminology to describe the non-consensual sharing of pornographic images.

"Revenge porn, the term often used to describe this abuse, is the wrong name: It is focused on intent rather than consent," Heard argues. "What matters is not why the perpetrator disclosed the images; it is that the victim did not consent to the disclosure."

Current legislation around this kind of photo hacking and sharing varies state-by-state, and Heard writes that "a vast majority of these state laws fall short" due to "misguided beliefs" about free speech, as well as lobbying by powerful tech companies. "That is why laws against non-consensual pornography should look like laws against other privacy violations, like the laws that prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of a broad range of private information, such as medical records and Social Security numbers," she explains.

Heard's personal experiences have encouraged her to speak out on the revenge porn issue. She writes of how "devastating" it is to know her images remain on the internet while perpetrators go unpunished — more than 50 of her personal photos were stolen and shared. She also writes that although we're liable to dismiss this kind of thing as a famous people problem, in 2019 revenge porn has the potential to affect everybody.

"If the celebrity hack can teach us anything, it is that wealth and fame will not protect you from becoming a victim of this kind of abuse and can never make you whole again if you do," she explains. "We should care about celebrity privacy for another reason: Today everyone is one step away from becoming famous."

Terrifyingly true. Figures vary, but a study published in 2016 by the Data & Society Research Institute found that 1 in 25 Americans are either threatened with or victims of nonconsensual image sharing. Women under 30, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community are much more likely to be threatened with revenge porn than men.

If you're a victim of non-consensual photo sharing, find resources here.

Photo via Getty

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