Tech firms unveil best practices on ‘revenge porn’

Tech firms unveil best practices on ‘revenge porn’
© Thinkstock

Major technology companies on Wednesday suggested a number of best practices for removing or addressing so-called revenge porn on their platforms.

The policies were announced as part of a broader push by California’s Attorney General Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisLive coverage: California voters to decide Newsom's fate Florida woman faces five years in prison for threatening to kill Harris Australia's COVID overreaction could come to US MORE to highlight online abuse when a person’s nude or intimate images are posted on the Web without consent. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The tech companies noted that there are limits to what they can do and specifically pointed out it would be infeasible to pre-approve or even “proactively monitor” potential instances of abuse. 

But they suggested strong terms of service that generally bar the practice and recommended a removal process of about two days that includes verification before images are blocked or removed. 

“Each company will need to implement practices to deal with this behavior that reflect the powers and limitations of the particular technology,” according to the document, which points out it should not be read as “industry standards or best practices for legal purposes or otherwise.”

According to the document, it is meant to express the companies’ “abhorrence with this abuse of technology and suggestions as to methods for combatting it.”

A Technology and Leadership subcommittee formed by the California attorney general created the three-page list of suggestions. Companies on the subcommittee included Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tumblr and Yahoo. 

The document is part of a new website created by Harris’s office, which acts as a resource hub for victims and law enforcement. 

The site provides links and contacts to a number of major websites and social media platforms for the victims of revenge porn. 

While many major tech companies have specific removal contacts for the abuse, others, like 4chan or Ask.com, use the takedown process established for copyright infringement in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  

“These new tools will assist law enforcement in combating cyber exploitation and support victims in seeking justice. I would like to thank our partners from our task force, whose work will have a global impact in combatting this heinous crime,” Harris said in announcing the website. 

Harris is running for the Senate seat opening up when Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) retires at the end of her term. The California attorney general is seen as the favorite in the race and has led in polling of the open primary contest. 

Some lawmakers in Congress are working on legislation that would make posting revenge porn a federal crime, and would put tech companies on the hook if they do not remove the photos when asked. The legislation, which has been delayed for number of months, would exempt sites that are unaware the content is posted.

Civil liberties groups have called out a number of state laws on the subject for potentially violating the First Amendment because their language is too vague.