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Can Someone Take Intimate Pictures of you Without Your Consent?

In today's digital age, privacy concerns are more prevalent than ever. With the proliferation of smartphones, video calls and hidden cameras, individuals face an increased risk of being recorded without their consent, especially in private settings. It can be devastating to find that private, intimate images of yourself are posted online for everyone to see. Perhaps your cloud was hacked, or an ex-partner posted an explicit video that you shared with them in confidence. No matter the origin, capturing and distributing intimate images without your consent, often referred to as voyeurism or considered revenge porn - and it is unlawful. 

To address this issue, the federal government enacted the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act (VVPA) in 2004, which criminalizes the unauthorized recording of individuals in private spaces.  There is also a civil cause that exists at the federal level under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  In this article, we’ll focus on unlawful Voyeurism. You can also read about revenge porn here.  

What is the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act?

The VVPA defines video voyeurism as the act of capturing, transmitting, or viewing images of a person's intimate areas without their consent, under circumstances where the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Examples of how this often happens include:

  • Taking photographs on a mobile phone of someone during moments of intimacy in a non-public place;

  • Taking screen shots of someone during a Facetime or Zoom call;

  • Hacking someone’s phone or cloud storage and taking or downloading those images without consent;

  • Using a hidden camera to record someone in a private dressing room, bathroom, or bedroom;

  • Many domestic abusers and sex traffickers use nonconsensual intimate images to harass and control their victims. They threaten to share explicit images of their partners as a way to keep them in the relationship and control their behavior. 

Take Action if You are a Victim of Video Voyeurism

If you believe that someone has captured nude images of you without your consent, it's important to take action to protect your rights. Here are the steps you should consider:

1.  Demand the Files be Deleted: If you suspect that someone captured intimate images of you, you should make clear, in writing, that you did not give them consent to capture the images and demand that the person delete all files permanently from all devices.  You can advise them that it is a crime to retain those images without your consent.

2.  Contact Law Enforcement: If you suspect that you have been a victim of video voyeurism, report the incident to your local law enforcement agency. Provide as much detail as possible, including any evidence or information you have regarding the incident.  If you were underage when the images were taken, the perpetrator likely committed child pornography. This offense is always penalized very strictly, and perpetrators can be prosecuted under both state and federal law.

If you are an adult victim, the perpetrator may still likely face large fines and jail time in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

3. Seek Legal Advice: If your contact with the perpetrator does not work, your attorney may need to send a demand letter informing the perpetrator that you will take legal action if they do not delete the content. That letter alone may be sufficient to convince the perpetrator to erase the harmful content on their own. 

Consult with an attorney who specializes in privacy law to understand your legal options. We can advise you on the best course of action to protect your rights and seek justice, including filing a lawsuit to hold the perpetrator accountable. Just as importantly, we can provide a judgment-free, supportive presence during this difficult time.

4. Document Evidence: Keep any evidence related to the incident, such as screenshots, messages, or witness statements. This information may be crucial in building a case against the perpetrator.

5. Protect Your Privacy: Take steps to protect your privacy moving forward. This may include changing your passwords, securing your devices, and being cautious about sharing personal information online.

6. Utilize Online Monitoring Tools:  The danger of someone having intimate images of you is that they will post them online. Online tools and services can help you monitor the web and social media sites for specified content. For example, Google Alerts is a free and effective tool to keep tabs on content that includes your name or other personally identifying information.  If they are posted, you can mitigate the damage by knowing about it right away and taking action to contact sites to have those images removed.

7.  Consider Counseling: Being a victim of video voyeurism can be a traumatic experience. Consider seeking counseling or therapy to help you cope with the emotional impact of the incident.

File a Video Voyeurism Lawsuit

If you are a victim of nonconsensual intimate voyeurism, you may have a civil or criminal claim - or both - against the perpetrator.  At Fiffik Law Group, we know how overwhelming and devastating it can be to have someone in possession of your intimate images without your consent. Whether you your partner captured images or videos during a private moment or had your phone or iCloud hacked, this is wrong and there is recourse.

Criminal cases are prosecuted by the state; you have no control over how the case proceeds beyond reporting the incident to the district attorney or law enforcement. Private attorneys can advocate for victims and help gather evidence, but they generally do not participate in criminal cases before the court.

Civil claims, on the other hand, are much more under your and your attorney’s control. You may be awarded monetary damages and obtain a restraining order or court order to remove the harmful content.  Our attorneys are here to talk with you – judgment free.  We will help you get your privacy back.  Contact us today.


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