Washington Law Review


The Right to Be Virtually Clothed

June 21, 2016 | 91 Wash. L. Rev. 817

Abstract: Nonconsensual pornography, also known as, “revenge pornography” or “cyber exploitation,” is the publication of a person’s nude image or video online by a third party. It is a privacy violation that can ruin a person’s social and professional life. Although advocates and lawmakers have done substantial work addressing this problem, current legal remedies fall short. This Comment argues that two privacy protections developed abroad, the “right to be forgotten” and the “right to delete,” should be applied domestically to nonconsensual pornography. One aspect of the “right to be forgotten,” i.e., the ability to remove nonconsensually posted images from search engine results, could be developed domestically to counter the reputational impact of revenge porn. Additionally, the “right to delete,” which is currently limited to the copyright context in the United States, could be expanded so that courts could mandate removal of images both from websites and from individuals’ possession once consent has been withdrawn. These rights—which together compose a right to control nonconsensually published nude images online—herein dubbed the “right to be virtually clothed”—will help address reputational and social damage as well as reduce the overall impact of revenge porn first by obscuring the underlying content and ultimately by removing it from the web.

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