Today’s lesson in why snapping secret, naked pictures of people is a really terrible idea comes from the University of Sydney, where a male student’s sneaky picture of his former girlfriend, also a student, has led to an internal inquiry and a police investigation.
The Sydney Morning Herald report that the two unnamed students, both in second year, were involved in a casual relationship until May of last year, and the complaint arises from a photo taken by the male student on his phone during consensual sex.
The female student, now aged 20, was not aware of the photograph until some time later, when it was discovered that the male, also 20, had kept it and shown it to several other students.
When the incident came to light earlier this year, police became involved – they spoke to the male student and deleted the naked picture from his phone. He wrote an apology letter to the victim and her family, although per the Herald’s report, no charges were laid.
In NSW, a person can face up to two years’ jail for taking a photo of a person in a “state of undress” without that person’s consent, for the purposes of arousal or sexual gratification.
The statute of limitations, however, is six months, and the female student, who did not discover the photo until eight months later, was advised that the male student could therefore not be prosecuted.
She has spoken out in frustration at this, saying that “a photo does not stop being a photo after six months”, criticising the university for dealing with her complaint inadequately, and asking for a public apology.
Though the male student was investigated, the university has refused to disclose his punishment, if any.
In a broader sense, the incident highlights the changing face of personal privacy in an age where any sensitive personal information can be shared with potentially millions of people online in just moments.
The Herald cite a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission, published earlier this year, which lays the foundations for individuals to be able to take civil action against those who violate their privacy.
In related news, it was revealed this week that lawyers for Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna and Cara Delevingne are threatening to sue internet giant Google following the leak of private, explicit images that came to be known as The Fappening.
They argue that Google has failed to ‘act expeditiously’ in removing the stolen images, and as such, have violated the privacy of the celebrities involved, engaged in unethical behaviour and profited from the victimsation of women.
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