Craig Barritt/Getty Images for WE Day
The push for a federal law to protect people from others who share private photos of them online without their consent is once again gaining a national spotlight. Last Thursday (October 31), Representative Katie Hill (D-CA) officially stepped down from her Congressional seat after right-wing blogs published photos of her without her consent. And Amber Heard, who has been vocal about navigating both the internet and life after being targeted in a mass photo hack in 2014, is once again helping push the conversation towards a bill that would ban such attacks on a federal level.
In an essay for the New York Times published Monday (November 4), the actor and activist opened up about her own experience, and the aftermath of the hack: “Complete strangers were consuming my most private moments without my permission. I faced a flood of unwanted propositions and harassing messages. The hack jeopardized my physical safety, my career, my sense of self-worth and every relationship I have had or will have,” she wrote. “And because nothing disappears from the internet, the torment will never end.”
Though websites worked to remove the images of Heard and the hundred-plus other celebrities who were targeted by the hack, the very nature of internet sharing and data saving means that people are likely still violating complete strangers on a daily level. And because laws against nonconsensual pornography, which is commonly known as “revenge porn,” vary from state to state, taking legal action can be an arduous process that verges on the impossible. Even so, Heard acknowledges her own privilege as a white woman with enough financial stability and legal support to protect herself.
“These consequences of nonconsensual pornography intensify with the vulnerability of the target: Lower-income women, women of color and LGBTQ people are at even greater risk,” she added, and urged people to take the issue as seriously as it sh