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Protect Your Privacy Rights in the Digital Era

Make sure that your privacy rights are protected.

There is a scene in the HBO show The Newsroom where one of the anchors confronts her ex-boyfriend after he posted nude photographs of her on the internet. She breaks his nose, which seems like poetic justice on television, but would likely get her arrested in real life.

Wisconsin enacted sec. 942.09(3m), which makes it a crime to post nude pictures of another person on the internet without that person’s consent. The so-called revenge porn bill provides protection to those people who agree to be photographed or filmed in private but do not consent to having those photographs/videos posted online. The elements of the crime are:

1. The defendant posted or published a nude or partially nude photograph or video or a photograph or video
depicting a sexually explicit act (Private Representation)
2. The defendant knew that the person in the Private Representation did not consent to the Private
Representation being posted or published.

A person who posts such pictures or videos may be sentenced to 9 months in jail fined $10,000 or both.
If your nude photos or videos are posted online, you also have the right to sue for money damages. Sec. 995.50 provides equitable relief, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees to a person who is successful in proving a violation of privacy. The statute provides that a violation of sec. 942.09 is an invasion of privacy even if there is not a criminal charge.

Equitable relief includes an order from the court requiring the offending picture/video to be removed. It seems that the court has certain limitations on this power if the offender sold the picture to a third party who then posted it.
Compensatory damages include such things as emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of income, medical/psychological expenses. These damages can be difficult to calculate, but are often the most significant loss.
It may be of little consolation to a victim that he/she can sue for damages and that the offender may end up with a criminal record, but at least there is a remedy in Wisconsin.

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