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Google Cracks Down on 'Revenge Porn'

  • VOA News

FILE - Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Brussels.

FILE - Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Brussels.

U.S. technology company Google says it plans to honor requests to remove from its Internet search engine unauthorized nude or sexually explicit images in a crackdown on what is known as "revenge porn."

The term refers to images posted online, often by former partners or spouses following a broken relationship, by extortionists who demand ransom to take down the pictures or by hackers who steal the pictures from people's personal accounts and publish them on various websites.

"Revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims — predominantly women," said Amit Singhal, Google's senior vice president of search, in a blog entry posted Friday.

Singhal said that in the coming weeks, the company would post a web form that people can download to submit the requests. He also said this policy was narrow and limited, similar to how Google treats requests to remove highly sensitive personal information, such as bank account numbers and signatures.

"We know this won't solve the problem of revenge porn — we aren't able, of course, to remove these images from the websites themselves — but we hope that honoring people's requests to remove such imagery from our search results can help," Singhal said.

Earlier this year, social networking site Twitter took similar action, banning "intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent." The social forum Reddit has also updated its privacy policy so that such content is not posted without the subject's permission.

Laws banning revenge porn have been passed in at least 17 U.S. states.

U.S. Representative Jackie Speier of California wants to introduce legislation to make revenge porn a federal crime.

Earlier this year, a California man, Kevin Bollaert, was convicted of running a revenge porn site and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

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