Tackling the Dissemination and Redistribution of NCII
10 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2023 Last revised: 31 Jan 2023
Date Written: December 16, 2022
The dissemination and redistribution of non-consensual intimate images (“NCII”) is an issue that has plagued platforms, courts, and lawmakers in recent years. The difficulty of restricting NCII is particularly acute on ‘rogue’ websites that are unresponsive to user complaints. In India, this has prompted victims to petition courts to block webpages hosting their NCII. However, even when courts do block these webpages, the same NCII content may be re-uploaded at different locations.
The goal of our proposed solution is to: (i) reduce the time, cost, and effort associated with victims having to go to court to have their NCII on ‘rogue’ websites blocked; (ii) ensure victims do not have to re-approach courts for the blocking of redistributed NCII; and (iii) provide administrative, legal, and social support to victims.
Our working paper proposes the creation of an independent body (“IB”) to: maintain a hash database of known NCII content; liaise with government departments to ensure the blocking of webpages hosting NCII; potentially crawl targeted areas of the web to detect known NCII content; and work with victims to increase the awareness of NCII related harms and provide administrative and legal support. Under our proposed solution, victims would be able to simply submit URLs hosting their NCII to a centralised portal maintained by the IB. The IB would then vet the victim’s complaint, coordinate with government departments to block the URL, and eventually hash and add the content to a database to combat redistribution.
This will significantly reduce the time, money, and effort exerted by victims to have their NCII blocked, whether at the stage of dissemination or redistribution. The issue of redistribution can also potentially be tackled through a targeted, proactive crawl of websites by the IB for known NCII pursuant to a risk impact assessment. Our solution envisages several safeguards to ensure that the database is only used for NCII, and that lawful content is not added to the database. Chief amongst these is the use of multiple human reviewers to vet the complaints made by victims and a public interest exemption where free speech and privacy interests may need to be balanced.
Our working paper draws on recent industry efforts to curb NCII, as well as the current multi-stakeholder approach used to combat child-sex abuse material online. However, our regulatory solution is specifically targeted at restricting the dissemination and redistribution of NCII on ‘rogue’ websites that are unresponsive to user complaints.
Keywords: online harms, non-consensual intimate images, NCII, content moderation, revenge pornography, content hashing, multi-stakeholder solution, grievance redressal
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation