Sexual Privacy

70 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2018 Last revised: 14 Nov 2018

See all articles by Danielle Keats Citron

Danielle Keats Citron

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project; Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Date Written: August 17, 2018


Those who wish to control and expose the identities of women and people from marginalized communities routinely do so by invading their privacy. People are secretly recorded in bedrooms and public bathrooms, and “up their skirts.” They are coerced into sharing nude photographs and filming sex acts under the threat of public disclosure of their nude images. People’s nude images are posted online without permission. Machine-learning technology is used to create digitally manipulated “deep fake” sex videos that swap people’s faces into pornography.

At the heart of these abuses is an invasion of sexual privacy—the behaviors and expectations that manage access to, and information about, the human body; gender identity and sexuality; intimate activities; and personal choices. More often, women and marginalized communities shoulder the abuse.

Sexual privacy is a distinct privacy interest that warrants recognition and protection. It serves as a cornerstone for sexual autonomy and consent. It is foundational to intimacy. Its recognition would acknowledge the subordinating impact of invasions of sexual privacy. Traditional privacy law’s efficacy, however, is eroding just as digital technologies magnify the scale and scope of the harm. Comprehensive legislation is essential to address all manner of sexual privacy invasions. This Article proposes a uniform approach to sexual privacy that includes federal and state penalties for privacy invaders, removes the statutory immunity from liability for certain content platforms, and works in tandem with hate crime laws.

Keywords: sexual privacy, revenge porn, deep fake, section 230

Suggested Citation

Citron, Danielle Keats, Sexual Privacy (August 17, 2018). Yale Law Journal, Forthcoming; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-25. Available at SSRN:

Danielle Keats Citron (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

Yale University - Yale Information Society Project

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Palo Alto, CA
United States

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