How is revenge porn addressed by different legal systems?

Published: 15 November 2017

A bosszúpornó azt jelenti, hogy valaki másokról készült szexuális tartalmú felvételeket tesz közzé az interneten, hogy megszégyenítse vagy bosszút álljon a felvételen szereplő személyen, személyeken. Ilyen tartalmakhoz már gyűjtőoldalakat is készítettek, remélve, hogy vagy a néző, vagy a megzsarolt áldozat fizetni fog. A jelenséget a jog sem nézi tétlenül, már hazánkban is került bíróság elé bosszúpornóhoz kapcsolódó ügy.

Revenge porn means publishing photos/videos of a sexual nature taken of others online with the intention of humiliating or exacting revenge on the person(s) in the photos/videos. There are aggregator sites dedicated to this type of content, created in hopes of getting either viewer or the victims being blackmailed to pay. This phenomenon does not go ignored by law: Hungary has already had its first court case related to revenge porn.

Revenge porn is often a result of a break-up where one member of a couple publishes their joint, even consensual, video of a sexual nature or an intimate photo/video taken of the other member out of revenge online, this time without the consent of the person concerned. By doing so, he/she commits a serious violation of his/her ex-partner’s personality rights and human dignity.

In Hungary, the phenomenon of revenge porn is not a separate criminal category; however, it can be assessed on the basis of multiple categories: breach of personal information, defamation, sexual assault, extortion or even child pornography.

From personal information to aggravated defamation

Information concerning sex life and sexual habits are considered personal information, and even special information in that, so the breach of such information violates criminal law and may result in up to two years of imprisonment.

Defamation means communicating or spreading a statement capable of harming the reputation of an individual and may result in up to one year of imprisonment. An aggravated case means that the aforementioned acts are committed with malicious intent or aims (including jealousy), before a broad audience (e.g. on the internet) or by causing considerable injury; this may result in up to two years of imprisonment. For example, when photos/videos of someone’s sexual habits are shared without his/her consent, it may be capable of harming his/her reputation since it is his/her human dignity that comes under attack, as established by Decision in Principle No. 21/2013 of the Curia of Hungary. The Curia’s Decision on the case concerning revenge porn:

From assault to extortion

Revenge porn becomes attempted sexual assault when, for example, someone threatens his/her partner to publish the previously taken sexual photos/videos if his/her partner leaves him/her. It is considered extortion if the ex-partner withholds the previously taken photos/videos from publication in exchange for payment.

Under 18: child pornography

If the published photos/videos of a sexual nature feature a person under the age of 18, it is considered the publication of child pornography, which may result in up to eight years of imprisonment.

Under civil law, the victim may claim, inter alia, damages for the violation of his/her personality rights.

From a business idea to prison – international outlook

There are many people around the world who saw a potential for financial gain in revenge porn. Dedicated sites collected such materials from those bent on revenge and then demanded huge amounts of money from victims for removing the humiliating content.

The United Kingdom is the first country where revenge porn is a criminal category. In the United States, many sentences were passed against the operators of such sites: in addition to 4-5 years of imprisonment, perpetrators have to face considerable amounts in damages, due to extortion and breach of personal information among others.

Details on the UK legislation:

Sentences related to revenge porn in the United States: