Quick Takes: Internet Privacy

Safe Ways to Share Are Most Important

The number of sexual images popping up on porn websites without owner consent is a growing cause of concern for younger individuals. Since placing restrictions on sharing photographs and videos is an invasion of privacy, more secure avenues for sharing personal images should be made accessible to the youth.

One popular smartphone application that helps protect individuals’ privacy is Snapchat, launched in September of last year. The app allows users to send photos via text, but the recipient can only view the photos for one to 10 seconds, after which the picture is deleted from both phones. Furthermore, the app makes it harder to take screenshots by requiring users to hold their fingers on the screen to view received photos. But if a screenshot is taken, the owner of the original photo is notified.

Restrictions on other popular social media avenues would help protect privacy. Since many sexual photos are stolen from personal blogs and image hosting sites such as Tumblr and Flickr, users should disable the right-click function on these sites to deter others from saving pictures to their hard drives.  

No application can completely eliminate the risk of the unintentional spread of sexual photos and videos; however, extra precautions can create a much needed, extra barrier of protection between these private materials and porn websites.

— Bahar Moshtaghian
Contributing Writer

Government Needs to Address the Issue

The questions surrounding the legal regulation of sexually explicit images raise issues about the role of government. The government needs to address these issues, because simply raising awareness about the dangers of posting nude pictures on the Internet among young people is not effective enough.

Lack of federal regulation over sexually explicit material is usually defended under the First Amendment’s freedom of speech. But there are websites, which the Internet Watch Foundation terms “parasites,” that advertise themselves as “homemade stolen teen porn.” There needs to be more public pressure on the federal government to work harder to identify and shut down the servers of theses “parasites,” as they do in cases of child pornography, especially considering that much of the stolen material depicts minors. The PROTECT Act, which criminalizes knowingly receiving or distributing a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct, should be extended to the distribution of personal explicit images.

Currently, individuals must look to private companies such as the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act Takedown Service” that work to get material removed through the United States Copyright Office. The current absence and inefficiency of federal efforts to prevent and identify the publishing of stolen images and videos urgently needs to be addressed.

— Mia Florin-Sefton
Contributing Writer

Youth Must Learn About Internet Privacy

An alarming percentage of sexual media are stolen by “parasite” websites that glean their content from lost or stolen cellphones, hacked social networks and blogging platforms. The most effective solution to illegal image harvesting is to take a preventative approach and inform youth about the realities of internet “privacy.”

The Internet Watch Foundation explained that it is difficult to remove uploaded images because they get copied and distributed throughout the net. On Facebook, it takes 30 days to remove a picture from the servers once a user has deleted it, which is a substantial window of time for these images to be found and stolen by parasite websites such as the notorious “XVideos.” Facebook should make this clearer to users by including a warning before uploading a photo or, at the very least, including this information in its Help section.

  Schools should also be required to alert youth of the risks of their actions online. The Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization advocating reproductive health, reports that a large majority of U.S. public schools (96 percent in California) host “Sex Ed.” classes. Warnings about sexual exploitation on the Web should be included in these classes because parasite websites pose serious threats to students’ rights and well-being.

The Internet is not a private medium and should not be treated as such. Youths must understand that in sending personal pictures online, they’re risking their privacy along with it.

— Nico Hemsley
Contributing Writer

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