#NotyourPorn: Kate Isaacs campaigns against Revenge Porn
Online porn sites are able to make a profit from the release of ‘leaked sex tapes’ which is often carried out by hacked videos or images found and uploaded anonymously. Revenge porn is a huge category within that industry and therefore it is often hard to get around it. Once it is uploaded millions of people can watch it and download it for their own use and at this point, the victims are defeated and shamed. Kate Isaacs, an activist and campaigner began the #NotYourPorn in support of making revenge porn; non-consensual videos and images illegal.
What made you start a campaign against Revenge Porn?
A friend of mine had her iCloud account hacked and explicit videos taken off her phone of her and her partner from a couple of years ago. She got a message saying she was on PornHub and suddenly it felt like the entire world (and twitter) had watched it. It was so awful and violating for her. I went on Pornhub to see what I could do to get the video pulled down - surely a porn company profiting from a video they haven't got consent to use would be illegal? That's when I saw all of the "leaked sex tapes" and "revenge porn" categories. After doing a LOT of research, I found out that Pornhub is owned by a tech company called MindGeek who have offices in the UK. They own around 80% of the commercialised porn industry and there is little to no legislation of how they should be behaving. The Revenge Porn Law (2015) doesn't apply to them because there's nothing in the (very loose) law that covers companies hosting this content without the consent of the subject(s) in the videos - but they're usually the reason why these videos go so viral, and with the download function, even if the original video gets pulled down 5 more get put back up. It's really an awful system that the government seems to do absolutely nothing about...so I decided to keep talking about it, called out the government and MindGeek until something was done. We're still working on it, but I'm really confident we'll get it done!
Why is it so important for laws to be created around revenge porn?
We're in 2019, and sending nudes is nothing new. We've been using images as part of our sexuality for hundreds of years - through portraits or hard copy photos. People weaponizing these images without consent is the issue - and the internet (and porn websites) mean that these images and videos can go viral very quickly. We need to make sure there are laws in place to protect people who haven't consented to these videos being shared. It can absolutely ruin someone’s life.
Many victims consent to creating sex tapes in a safe environment, at what point do you think that their consent is no longer received for revenge porn to happen?
It's all in the distribution of it. If you have given consent for you to be recorded, but that the video was only for you and your partner(s) then as soon as someone goes against that and shares it with a third party and they haven't gotten consent from you - and then it's revenge porn. The easiest thing to relate this instance to is sex, if you've consent to sex with a man and they're wearing a condom, then you've consented - as soon as they take the condom off without you knowing, then the act becomes not consensual and it's sexual assault.
Who is responsible for the distribution of revenge porn? The plat form used or the uploader?
Both, absolutely. The Revenge Porn law reforms that the government is currently undertaking is exploring whether those who share the images in the first place should be classes as sexual offenders - so they're already looking into harsher punishments for those who upload this content. However, in the reform there is nothing on platforms, which I think is a huge oversight. They may not have uploaded the videos themselves, but they are the reason why revenge porn spreads so quickly - and with the download function it means it can share the original video to millions within 24 hours. As a company, MindGeek has pretty much nothing in place to prevent this from happening - they seem to encourage it with their genres. Also there is a massive preconception that because it's on Pornhub it must be consensual and of age - which isn't the case. These are tax paying companies and shouldn't be able to spread and profit from illegal images / videos.
What do you think can be done to help victims who are part of Revenge Porn?
I think the law needs to be much more focused. At the moment, the law is very vague, and the fact it's even called "revenge porn" insinuates that it's a disgruntled ex-lover, when this isn't always the case. I also think we need to ensure the guidelines of what is illegal and what isn't illegal are very, very clear - harsher punishments can then follow. The Revenge Porn reform that the government will be rolling out in 2020 will massively help with training police officers on how to deal with victims and perpetrators. But I honestly believe that we need to be targeting the porn companies - they have a massive influence on social perceptions and they profit from videos by spreading them as far as possible.
What do you hope to achieve and how will you continue to fight this case?
In the immediate I want to ensure that a review into porn companies (and specifically, MindGeek) is part of the Revenge Porn reforms. But the campaign has two main objectives:
a) Change social perceptions around porn websites using this content - spread awareness that the content on there could be illegal, and that it's no one’s right to view this content without the subject(s) permission.
b) Change the law and create more legislation around the porn industry and their responsibilities as a prolific platform for this type of content. It should be completely illegal for them to host and profit from this type of content - and I won't shut up, or stop fighting for this until it's the case.
Support the petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/257439