Navy bans nonconsensual nude photo sharing in wake of scandal

Navy bans nonconsensual nude photo sharing in wake of scandal
© Greg Nash

The Navy has officially banned sailors and Marines from sharing nude photos without the permission of the person pictured.

“The wrongful distribution or broadcasting of an intimate image is prohibited,” the Department of the Navy said in what’s known as an all-Navy message.

The change in regulation effectively makes such behavior a military crime, as it amounts to a lawful order that can be enforced in the military justice system.

The change was first highlighted Wednesday by Navy Times.

The new rule comes as the military grapples with a nude-photo-sharing scandal that started after the revelation of a Facebook page where Marines allegedly shared nude photos of female Marines and veterans without their consent and made crude and disparaging comments, including rape threats.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has been investigating, as have other service branches.

After the scandal broke, some lawmakers expressed concerns about what they described as a loophole in military law that could allow the perpetrators to go unpunished.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) makes taking nude photos without consent a punishable crime. But the nonconsensual sharing of private photos, often called "revenge porn," is not addressed in the UCMJ.

A couple of lawmakers have offered bills to change that.

But the Navy’s new regulation could serve as a workaround without actually amending the UCMJ.

Under the new regulation, an intimate photo is defined as one where the person in the picture is identifiable, is engaging in a sexually explicit act or shows a private part and had a “reasonable expectation” of privacy.

The picture would be considered wrongfully shared if the person sharing it has no legal justification or excuse, and knows or reasonably should know that the depicted person did not consent, according to the regulation.

The picture also would also have to be shared for personal gain; with the intent to humiliate, harm, harass, intimidate, threaten or coerce the subject; or with “reckless disregard” as to whether the person pictured would be humiliated, harmed, intimidated, threatened or coerced.