This is precisely why “revenge porn,” the term often used to describe this abuse, is the wrong name: It is focused on intent rather than consent. What matters is not why the perpetrator disclosed the images; it is that the victim did not consent to the disclosure.
That is why laws against nonconsensual pornography should look like laws against other privacy violations, like the laws that prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of a broad range of private information, such as medical records and Social Security numbers.
Because the patchwork of state laws fails to truly protect intimate privacy, it is vital that Congress pass legislation that does. And that is why in May, I spoke at the news conference for the introduction of the Stopping Harmful Image Exploitation and Limiting Distribution (SHIELD) Act, a bipartisan federal bill introduced by Representatives Jackie Speier of California and John Katko of New York.
Every person, from the most famous to the most obscure, from the privileged to the poor, deserves privacy.
I can tell you firsthand that acts of nonconsensual pornography are humiliating, degrading and life-altering. Nonconsensual pornography is one of the worst violations of privacy, and no amount of power or privilege can protect you from it. But those of us with power and privilege do have a particular responsibility to work toward ending it. We can all play a role, by speaking out about our experiences, supporting organizations like the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and calling lawmakers. Ending the violence of nonconsensual pornography should not be tied to fleeting cycles of outrage or cases involving celebrities, but enshrined in the law to protect the right of intimate privacy for all of us.
Ms. Heard is an actress and activist.
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