Blackmail: Related Rights

Your right to PRIVACY
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  Article 12, Universal Declaration of Human Rights:: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

Blackmail often involves doxing, which is hacker slang for publishing someone's personal contact information online to intimidate or punish them. Doxing is an obvious violation of your right to privacy and anyone who does this without your permission is breaking the law. Generally, in law, the right to privacy trumps freedom of expression.

People who post to 'revenge porn' sites use the anonymity the internet can give them to take advantage of the fact that authorities are only just beginning to understand this crime, but legislation is emerging. In the first half of 2014, nine US states passed legislation to specifically prohibit the unauthorised posting of images.

In Europe, there is also a Right to be Forgotten, which can be used to demand that search engines remove links with personal information because it is irrelevant. Interestingly, the burden of proof is now on the search engine to prove that the data cannot be deleted because it is still relevant. The law applies to all companies, including those outside the EU, which serve European citizens.

Your right to FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
FrancesHolly

Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers."

Like most online violence, blackmail is often used to silence women. This means that preventing tech-related violence against women is not in opposition to free speech, but rather in line with it.

If your freedom of expression is being challenged primarily because of a private demonstration of sexuality, the blackmailers are trying to punish or control you using the censure and/or shame our patriarchal societies put on women and their naked bodies. Women have a right to be sexual; when we stop shaming women's sexuality, so-called 'revenge porn' will diminish in power.

Your right to FREEDOM FROM VIOLENCE

United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women: "States should condemn violence against women and should not invoke any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination. States should pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating violence against women... [This includes] any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."

Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence: "Parties shall take the necessary legislative and other measures to promote and protect the right for everyone, particularly women, to live free from violence in both the public and the private sphere."

Intimate photos or videos that a couple may take consensually can become a blackmail tool if one of the partners threatens to share them without consent. This is violence in itself, but there are also cases where women are forced to endure further violence by remaining in unwanted relationships or engaging in undesired sexual activities because of blackmail.

Your right to PROTECT YOUR ARTISTIC WORK

Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author."

Copyright establishes two rights – economic and moral. The moral rights of copyright allow you to claim authorship of a photo or video and the right to prohibit or authorise its distribution.

Photographs and videos are considered artistic productions. Some women have used copyright laws to register intimate images they took of themselves and were later misused without their consent in order to build a legal case for reclaiming ownership and demanding withdrawal from the public domain.

The Berne Convention guarantees that copyright protection is obtained automatically; there is no need for registration or other formalities. Some national copyright offices and laws allow you to register works, which may facilitate legal cases.

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