Breaking up is hard to do, even if you’re rich and famous.
After a short, tumultuous and highly-publicized relationship, celebrities Rob Kardashian (of the infamous Kardashian clan) and Blac Chyna (model and entrepreneur) recently broke up.
The break up quickly went from bad to worse when Kardashian posted several explicit photos and videos of Chyna on Instagram, allegedly without her consent.
California, where Kardashian and Chyna live, has strict laws regarding non-consensual pornography. Under California law, it is illegal to distribute sexual images or videos of someone without his or her consent, so long as it is intended to cause serious emotional distress and so long as the person depicted experiences distress. As such, if Kardashian is found guilty under the California penal code, he could face up to 6 months imprisonment for posting the explicit photos. Kardashian also faces the possibility of Chyna suing him for monetary damages under the California civil code, which similarly deals with the non-consensual distribution of explicit materials that cause harm to the victim. In fact, Chyna has already been granted a temporary restraining order by the California courts, which bars Kardashian from coming near her or posting about her online.
Importantly, similar rules apply under Canadian law.
In December 2013, the Canadian Criminal Code was amended to add s.162.1(1), which makes it a crime if someone “knowingly publishes, distributes, transmits, sells, makes available or advertises an intimate image of a person” knowing that he or she did not give their consent. On conviction as an indictable offence, the penalty can be up to 5 years imprisonment. In these circumstances, Canadians would also have the option of filing civil lawsuits for monetary damages for the torts of breach of confidence, intentional infliction of mental distress, invasion of privacy, etc.
There is no denying that social media has become a part of our everyday lives. However, after a difficult break-up or other life event, it is always important to be cautious and respectful in regards to what you post on social media.