‘Revenge porn’ is about degrading women sexually and professionally #Vaw


What does it say about society that websites where angry men shame their ex-lovers are thriving?

 

Stalking

Ex-lovers can now torment women online by posting naked photos of them and other personal information. Photograph: Robin Beckham/Alamy

In the centuries-old tradition of human beings looking at images of other human beings naked, the internet is perhaps the biggest game-changer since the film camera.

Porn sites are some of the most-visited places on the web, and just about anything you could imagine (and lots of things you probably couldn’t have come up with on your own) is a mere Google search away. While that’s great news for folks who have, say, an unrequited zombie fetish or a deep desire to see old men swaddled in mohair diapers, the almost entirely unregulated buffet of internet pornography also has a whole host of downsides – one of the most odious being the popular genre of “revenge porn“.

On revenge porn sites, users upload x-rated photos of women (often ex girlfriends or lovers) without the women’s permission. Send a naughty photo to your boyfriend and when it turns out he’s a pig, your image is all over the internet, often with your name, location and links to your social media accounts. The purpose of revenge porn isn’t to allow regular guys the opportunity to see some naked girls-next-door; it’s explicitly purposed to shame, humiliate and destroy the lives and reputations of young women.

Luckily, some of those women are refusing to be shamed into silence.More than two dozen of them have filed a lawsuit against one of the websites, Texxxan.com, as well as its host, GoDaddy.com. Some of the women have lost their jobs; all of them have been exposed and exploited, first by men they trusted and then by entities simply looking to make a buck off of misogyny.

Gender cyber harassment is nothing new (pdf), and revenge porn sites are part of a widespread, deeply sexist online culture everywhere from blog comment sections to YouTube videos to message boards. Anonymous sexualized harassment of women online has been around since AOL chatrooms, and it seems to be getting more mainstreamed, more organized and more efficient. The internet is not a nice place to be a woman – something I found out first-hand, and not just through the ongoing threats, harassment and stalking I’ve received as a feminist blogger.

When I was a law student at NYU, I found myself the subject of hundreds of threads and comments on a website called AutoAdmit. Reading post after anonymous post about how your classmates and future professional peers want to rape you is not a particularly pleasant experience; seeing those posts right next to details of what outfit you wore to school yesterday, how tall you are or what kinds of comments you made in class feels awfully threatening.

It’s hard to explain the psychological impact these kind of anonymous posts have, when these people know your name, face and exactly where you are during the day. You can’t walk down the hall at school without wondering if that guy who just made eye contact with you is going to go home and write something disgusting about you on the internet, or if anything you say in class is going to be quoted on a message board as evidence that you are a stupid cow, or if any one of these anonymous commenters is going to take their sexually violent urges offline and onto your body.

My reaction was to shut down. I felt like I was in a fishbowl, so I just refused to look outside of the glass. I’m a very social person, but in three years of law school I made only two friends. I skipped a lot of my classes; when I did go, I kept my head down.

I tried to ignore the online postings, hoping they would go away. When they didn’t, and I finally screwed up the courage to write about them, I received a barrage of harassing and threatening emails. One man, a graduate of Georgetown Law Center, claims to have gone to NYU and met with one of my professors to discuss what a “dumb cunt” (his words) I am. Even after I was out of law school and practicing, that same man sent more than a dozen emails to every single partner and attorney at my law firm in an effort to get me fired.

I graduated law school in 2008. Five years later, the process of writing about this still makes me tense up, triggering the same old anxiety, anger and fear. I still avoid going to large professional gatherings, and when I do go, my heart starts to beat a little faster if I catch someone looking at my name tag for what seems like a few seconds too long.

I’m a feminist writer who even before law school was used to receiving my share of online abuse. I get called all sorts of names on a daily basis and usually just roll through it. Yet I was still devastated by those postings.

And I was lucky. I wasn’t naked. My job opportunities were surely limited, but I didn’t get fired. But there are serious long-term consequences to internet harassment, both professional and personal. It’s undoubtedly much worse when the harassment involves naked pictures, your face on a porn site and the permanent stigma of being a “slut”.

It’s easy to say, “Well if you don’t want naked pictures on the internet, don’t send men naked pictures” – or in my case, I suppose, just don’t be female on the internet. But that simplistic view overlooks the way intimate relationships operate today, and, in fact, how they’ve always operated.

Within romantic relationships, people have always exchanged tangible things that would be highly embarrassing if publicly revealed, whether that’s a sexy note, a suggestive article of clothing or raunchy photo. You’re already engaging in an act that involves nudity, exchange of body fluids, the potential for reproduction, two human bodies intertwined skin-to-skin and, one hopes, some level of mutual trust. Once you’ve been face-to-genitals with someone, sending them a nude picture doesn’t seem like it should be such a big deal.

Society sees it differently – at least when the nude photo is of a woman. There aren’t popular revenge porn sites with pictures of naked men, because as a society we don’t think it’s inherently degrading or humiliating for men to have sex. Despite the fact that large numbers of women watch porn, there are apparently not large numbers of women who find sexual gratification in publicly shaming and demeaning men they’ve slept with.

And that is, fundamentally, what these revenge porn sites are about. They aren’t about naked girls; there are plenty of those who are on the internet consensually. It’s about hating women, taking enjoyment in seeing them violated, and harming them.

The owners to Texxxan.com practically said as much when, in defending their website, they posted a message saying, “Maybe [sic] the site provided an outlet for anger that prevented physical violence (this statement will be very controversial but is at least worth thinking about).” In other words, these are men who hate women to the degree that they’d be hitting them if they didn’t have revenge porn as an outlet for their rage. They’re angry because women have the nerve to exist in the universe as sexual beings.

Unfortunately, the law hasn’t quite caught up with the internet. I hope these women win their lawsuit. But as Emily Bazelon details at Slate, they’re fighting an uphill battle. Our current laws were written with an old media system in mind, and they need to be updated to protect free speech while also defending against defamation and gross invasions of personal privacy.

In the meantime, we can all do small things to marginalize the appeal of revenge porn. Not looking at the sites is an obvious first step; finding a host other than GoDaddy for your own site is another. Refusing to participate in the sexual shaming of women is also key – these sites would never survive without the pervasive view that sexually active women are dirty. Support the women who have the nerve to stand up to these privacy violations. Read, promote and raise up women’s voices generally, online and off. And push legislators to modernize our laws.

Right now, the law and our culture are both on the side of those who shame and humiliate women for sport, instead of those of us who just want to go about our normal lives, whether that’s going to law school or having sex with our boyfriends, without putting our careers, our reputations, our psychological well-being and our basic ability to trust the people we’re closest with on the line. Here’s hoping we win the long game.

Anonymous #OPindia hacks Kapil Sibal’s website


PTI

A file photo of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.
The Hindu A file photo of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.

Nov 30,2012

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal’s personal website has been hacked and defaced allegedly by Anonymous India group for the minister’s stand on IT Act.

The website www.kapilsibalmp.com was on Thursday attacked and contents were altered to show the minister in poor light.

Mr. Sibal, who represents the Chandni Chowk constituency in Parliament, uses this portal to interact with his constituency.

While most of the website has been restored, certain sections such as blogs, gallery, speeches and conversation were still not working.

While no official comment was immediately available, a source in the minister’s office said the website is an old one and had not been updated for sometime now.

The Twitter account of Anonymous India (@opindia_revenge), a group against Internet censorship and curbs on free speech, said Mr. Sibal’s site was getting “trolled“.

“The time to sit silently is gone. Call your friends and get them to protests sites,” said a link posted on the Twitter handle.

Meanwhile, the government on Friday said about 294 websites belonging to various ministries and government departments were hacked in the January-October 2012 period.

“A total number of 201, 303, 308 and 294 websites belonging to various ministries and departments in the government were hacked during the year 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 (till October), respectively,” Minister of State for Communications and IT Milind Deora said.

#Russia -#Censorship f’Internet blacklist law takes effect #FOS #FOE


Children using a computer

Nov 1, 2012  BBC

A law that aims to protect children from harmful internet content by allowing the government to take sites offline has taken effect in Russia.

The authorities are now able to blacklist and force offline certain websites without a trial.

The law was approved by both houses of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin in July.

Human rights groups have said the legislation might increase censorship in the country.

The law is the amendment to the current Act for Information.

The authorities say the goal is to protect minors from websites featuring sexual abuse of children, offering details about how to commit suicide, encouraging users to take drugs and sites that solicit children for pornography.

If the websites themselves cannot be shut down, internet service providers (ISPs) and web hosting companies can be forced to block access to the offending material.

It will be [an attack on] the freedom of speech on the internet”

Yuri VdovinCitizens’ Watch

Critics have described it another attempt by President Vladimir Putin to exercise control over the population.

“Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don’t think it will be limited to that,” Yuri Vdovin, vice-president of Citizens’ Watch, a human rights organisation based in Saint-Petersburg, told the BBC.

“The government will start closing other sites – any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline.

“It will be [an attack on] the freedom of speech on the internet.”

Mr Vdovin said that to close a website, the government would simply have to say that its content was “harmful to children”.

“But there are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites – and they could have easily been closed down by now – but no, [the government] doesn’t care, there are no attempts to do so,” he added.

A risk for websites?

Besides NGOs and human rights campaigners, websites including the Russian search engine giant Yandex, social media portal Mail.ru and the Russian-language version of Wikipedia have all protested against the law.

Screengrab of Russian Wikipedia pageThe Russian version of Wikipedia went dark for a day in protest at the law in July

The latter, for instance, took its content offline for a day ahead of the vote in July, claiming the law “could lead to the creation of extra-judicial censorship of the entire internet in Russia, including banning access to Wikipedia in the Russian language”.

Yandex temporarily crossed out the word “everything” in its “everything will be found” logo.

“The way the new law will work depends on the enforcement practice,” said a spokesman.

“Yandex, along with other key Russian market players, is ready to discuss with lawmakers the way it is going to work.”

In July, the Russian social networking site Vkontakte posted messages on users’ homepages warning that the law posed a risk to its future.

However, the country’s telecom minister Nikolai Nikiforov, suggested that such concerns were overblown when he spoke at the NeForum blogging conference this week.

“Internet has always been a free territory,” he said, according to a reportby Russian news agency Tass.

“The government is not aimed at enforcing censorship there. LiveJournal, YouTube and Facebook showcase socially responsible companies.

“That means that they will be blocked only if they refuse to follow Russian laws, which is unlikely, in my opinion.

 

 

INDIFFERENCE TO INTERNET –Apathetic state #censorship


Javed Anwer | June 2, 2012, TOI Crest

 

Two weeks ago, millions of perplexed internet users in India woke up to discover that they had been suddenly cut off from a clutch of very popular file-sharing and video websites. This was ostensibly done to ‘protect copyright’ and involved an Indian film body, a court order and internet service providers (ISPs). Indian cyberspace erupted with indignation. As later reported, there was much that was arbitrary about the action. It also raises some fundamental questions about regulating the internet in India.
In this latest instance, there were also, initially, no clear answers as to who cut off access to these websites? A notice telling users that ‘this website has been blocked as per DoT orders, ‘ appeared first. DoT apparently meant Department of Telecom. After a couple of days the message was changed to ‘the website has been blocked as per a court order. ‘ DoT later clearly denied it had issued any such order. And here lies one part of the problem.

No internet service provider (ISP) bothered to explain which court order, or what the issue at hand was. In fact, Indian ISPs have been blocking and unblocking websites on the basis of broad and rather vague court orders against piracy for a while now. This is clearly problematic, as there appears to be no system or detailed governmental guidelines in place to do such things.

At first glance, it seems logical. A court ordered the blocking of some websites and lawabiding ISPs complied. But it is not so simple. This whole saga is also a sordid tale of how casually the Indian government and ISPs treat the issue of web access in India, perhaps a fundamental right of sorts across the globe now. It also shows the lack of a proper system of wellthought out state oversight over the very firms tasked with connecting Indians to the internet.

In this case, the Madras high court only issued an order against a specific case of piracy. It didn’t order that websites be blocked. CERTIN, the nodal government agency in question, did not issue any directives to ISPs in this case. And the Chennai-based firm that filed the lawsuit later claimed it never asked anyone to block complete websites – only that access to some specific web links on these sites be cut off.

Clearly, ISPs seem to wield arbitrary powers in India, either due to poorly-framed IT rules that were notified last April, or because of the apathy that the concerned ministries seem to display on the matter. ISPs (most of whom are also big telecom companies) behave this way because they neither seem to be accountable to consumers nor to the government, on the vital matter of free and unfettered access to the net (bound by reasonable restrictions, of course) which is what consumers are paying for.

Blocking websites is a serious matter. Done the wrong way, it is tantamount to trampling on free speech. The UN has said that free and open access to the web is a human right. Countries like Finland have even made it a legal right for their citizens. And free speech matters greatly to mature democracies tackling similar issues. Consider how when US legislators were debating their Stop Online Piracy Act, which allowed for something like what ISPs did in India, President Obama threatened to veto the act if it was passed.

No one denies that there are problems with the web. But the solution to these problems does not lie with our ISPs being willing to play trigger-happy cops. The internet is inherently disruptive technology. Copyright piracy, for instance, is a serious issue and must be dealt with carefully. In the digital world it is very difficult to sort issues out in a black and white fashion. That’s the main reason why the same websites blocked in India continue to be available in most other countries, including the US – where the most stringent copyright and anti-piracy laws in the world are enforced.

But in India, state indifference to understanding the internet appears to be the biggest problem. Besides, the government keeps going off on other tangents. For instance, Kapil Sibal, our telecom minister, has been going on about how the web should be regulated. Shouldn’t he be talking about how the web in India can be kept free instead? His ministry, instead of devising ways to monitor social media websites, should be working to create a framework where intermediaries like website owners and ISPs don’t abuse the power they have over users. Instead of worrying about Twitter, shouldn’t the government be working to create institutions and net watchdogs (on the lines of TRAI perhaps) that make sure Indians can access the internet freely?

If websites had been blocked arbitrarily in the West, ISPs would have been sued or penalised by government watchdogs. They would have been hounded by courts for abusing a just order. But not in India – a pity for a country that claims to be among the world’s most vibrant democracies.

Wow! No internet required for Rajinikath’s website


 

New Delhi: A new website has been launched, dedicated to superstar Rajinikanth, which runs without an internet. It is shocking but true that you need not an internet connection to browse the superstar’s website.

It is said that if you switch on your internet connection, the site will stop working. Visitors to http://www.allaboutrajinikanth.com were warned that he is not an ordinary man and this is not an ordinary website. It runs on Rajini Power and netizens are asked to switch off internet connection to browse the superstar’s website.

Users can read Rajini’s history of both real and reel life from the beginning, browsing through famous Rajini jokes about impossible feats only he can achieve.

Webchutney‘s creative director Gurbaksh Singh, who developed the site, said that this unique website is a tribute to Rajinikanth.

The websites reflects Rajini’s signature style with a heady mix of foot-tapping music, vibrant splash of colours, quirky quotes and illustrations, and also icons in true Rajini style and lingo.

If a visitor attempts to re-connect the internet, an error message will appear in a Rajinikanth’s style.

“Aiyyo! That was unexpected. To keep browsing, switch off your Internet,” reads the message.

As per the reports, the website got 10,000 visits just after few hours of its launch. It has also become popular on Facebook and Twitter.

According to Singh, after a few iterations and testing, they cracked the code required to build the world’s first unique website that runs without switching on the internet and which is as awesome and unbelievable as miracles and stunts associated or performed by the superstar himself.

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