In the Information Age, we face evolving forms of crimes and offenses. California has stepped up to address this by designing legislation to respond to some of these new threats.
State law now includes online stalking and harassment, identity theft and invasion of privacy, among other cybercrimes. A growing crime in this category is cyber exploitation.
Understanding cyber exploitation
California law defines cyber exploitation as the “nonconsensual distribution of intimate photos and/or videos” on the internet. You may have heard of “revenge porn,” “doxing” or “photoshopping,” all of which are related to cyber exploitation.
Most often, cyber exploitation consists of posting images or videos online of a private nature without the consent of the person photographed. The exploiter could have obtained the images or videos nefariously or legitimately — they may have even taken or recorded them with permission.
Long-term effects for victims
Regardless of the circumstances, posting this type of content without permission is a serious offense with distressing repercussions. The overwhelming majority of cyber exploitation victims are women, but men can be targets of this type of abuse as well. Some victims end up losing their jobs or personal relationships, and nearly all suffer extreme emotional distress.
Depending on the circumstances, cyber exploitation can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction. The act of posting private pictures or videos online without consent is a misdemeanor, but when combined with invasion of privacy, recording without permission, doxing, threats and other crimes, a perpetrator can face a felony charge.
Even if the person who uploaded the content lives in another state or posted it from another country, California can prosecute them if the victim is a California resident. Only one of either the perpetrator, the victim or the act itself need be within California borders to fall under the jurisdiction of the state’s cyber exploitation laws.