celebrity, pop culture, social media

ROB KARDASHIAN MIGHT’VE BROKEN CALIFORNIA’S REVENGE PORN LAWS

On Wednesday, Rob Kardashian took to social media to blast his former fiancée, Blac Chyna, for allegedly “cheating on him.”

He posted a video of Chyna kissing another man, purporting that she had sent the video to him, a video of Chyna going into what Kardashian alleged was weight-loss surgery, as well as several screenshots of conversations (between Kardashian and Chyna, and between Kardashian and the alleged other man). After accusing Chyna of essentially swindling him for $1 million, given to her in gifts and rent, Kardashian posted three nude pictures of Chyna before his account was disabled.

While this isn’t the first time that Rob has posted sensitive contact information (he posted the phone number of the “other” man and he has posted his sister Kylie’s phone number, forcing her to change it), this is the first time he’s posted nude images of someone else. And, under California state law, it’s possible that he could face charges for revenge porn.

“Revenge porn” is a blanket term that essentially means the publishing without consent of intimate photos, typically gathered in a relationship and published after the end of that relationship. While there are no federal laws about revenge porn, 38 states, including Washington, D.C., have laws concerning it. (Click here to check your state’s).

The law, California Penal Code 647(j)(4), prohibits the “unlawful distribution of [the] image.”

Existing law provides that any person who photographs or records by any means the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person, under circumstances where the parties agree or understand that the image shall remain private, and the person subsequently distributes the image taken, with the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and the depicted person suffers serious emotional distress, is guilty of disorderly conduct.

The “emotional distress” part is the crux of the issue. According to TMZ, Chyna allegedly “liked” at least one image on Instagram, which would make it difficult to argue that she was under emotional distress. However, Rob’s reposting of the images on Twitter (even though he later deleted them) could be seen as deliberate attempts at causing “serious emotional distress.”

In 2015, then-State Attorney General, now Senator of California, Kamala Harris announced a new state website to help “victims of revenge porn have unauthorized intimate images and other personal information removed from websites.”

In 2010, Hunter Moore launched the website IsAnyoneUp. The site used user-submitted pornography, which included personal details (contact information, name, social media links, etc.) of those depicted. IsAnyoneUp closed in 2012 after legal action was threatened against it. Moore was sentenced to two and a half years in prison I 2015.

However, states are slow to adapt laws to the Internet age, utilizing copyright infringement and invasion of privacy laws where there was no specific revenge porn law.

According to the Data & Society Research Institute and the Center for Innovative Public Health Research, roughly four percent of Americans have been threatened with or experienced revenge porn. 10 percent of women under the age of 30 reported that they have been threatened with the leaking of private photos, and 17 percent of LGBTQ+ people have been threatened or experienced it.

Apparently Chyna won’t be pressing charges, but according to a Huffington Post article, that might not even be needed to prosecute Rob. Lawyer Scott Lesowitz said, “Prosecutors, in an effort to deter these crimes, may move forward with charges, even if it makes the case more challenging.” Rob’s fame would be an added incentive to prevent others from copying him.

Even if Chyna did like the photo, Rob still willingly leaked sexual photos of her to an audience of millions of followers, spread across two social media platforms. It also tracks with his pattern of using social media to abuse and demean the women in his life; he leaked his sister’s phone number, he’s spoken negatively about previous relationships with other women (Rita Ora and Adrienne Bailon).

This was revenge against Chyna for “cheating” on Rob, plain and simple. He exposed her to ridicule and exposed her body without her consent. He wanted to embarrass her, demean her and brutalize her.

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