Revenge Porn Is Finally Illegal Under Navy and Marine Corps Law

Revenge Porn Is Finally Illegal Under Navy and Marine Corp. Law

While it seems impossible that revenge porn wasn’t already illegal in the armed forces, the Navy and Marine Corps announced Tuesday that they have changed regulations to ban distributing any “intimate image” with the intent to “humiliate, harass, or threaten that person — or a reckless disregard that they would face humiliation, threats, or harassment,” BuzzFeed reports. The move comes after a scandal last month that prompted a Pentagon investigation into the sharing of nude photos of female service members by Marines; the investigation eventually expanded to include gay porn websites that featured images of men in military uniforms engaged in sex acts. 

The original scandal that broke in March focused on nude photos of female troops that were shared in a private Facebook group among hundreds of Marines. The photos also included personal information about the women, including their name, rank, duty station, and social media accounts. 

Shortly after the news broke, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was called in to investigate the Marines accused of sharing the nude photos without consent and subsequently cyberbullying some of the victims. A few weeks later, NCIS called for a joint task force across all branches of the armed forces to investigate. Air Force investigators began searching gay porn sites in order to identify victims, as at least one fully clothed male victim’s photo ended up on a gay porn Tumblr site without his consent, USA Today reported at the time. 

Regarding changing the U.S. Navy Regulations to ban the distribution of revenge porn, Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler told BuzzFeed, "The addition of Article 1168 'Nonconsensual distribution or broadcasting of an image' to Navy Regulations serves to underscore leadership's commitment to eliminating degrading behaviors that erode trust and weaken the Navy and Marine Corps Team."

“It provides commanders another tool to maintain good order and discipline by holding sailors and Marines accountable for inappropriate conduct in the nonconsensual sharing of intimate imagery,” she continued. 

Since the investigation into the Facebook page photo scandal began, NCIS has identified 15 active duty service members and 12 civilians who appear to be involved in “felony-level criminal activity of sharing nude photos on the Internet without the consent of the subjects,” according to Stars and Stripes (a newspaper that operates under the Department of Defense but is protected by the First Amendment). In addition to the possible felonies committed, NCIS identified 29 more people who could face misdemeanor charges or nonjudicial punishment. 

“Online harassment of female Marines is symptomatic of a larger issue the task force is directly addressing,” Marine Corps Asst. Cmdt. Gen. Glenn Walters told Stars and Stripes. “We are trying to change the culture of the Marine Corps, and hopefully when we change the culture of the Marine Corps, then the behaviors that beget it maybe will correct themselves.”

Walters’s remarks come after U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, lambasted military leaders last month for their inaction regarding sexual predators of all stripes. "Commanders have told us for decades that they can handle these issues — clearly they cannot, and Congress should step up and do its job and bring professionalism and accountability to the military justice system that has ignored predators for far too long,” Gillibrand said. 

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