Is Leaking a Nude Photo a Cybercrime or Sex Crime?

The recent leak of nude celebrity photographs onto the Internet has piqued the attention of an entire nation this month. Not only does it raise questions about online security but it also raises an important legal question as well: is leaking a nude photo a cybercrime or a sex crime?

As some of our readers may already know, a cybercrime is defined as conducting criminal activity via a technology infrastructure. This can include forging or changing information on documents, using someone else’s identity, interfering with computer systems, or invading someone else’s privacy. Such crimes are considered very serious and can lead to criminal litigation.

But the recent invasion of privacy — which caused nude photos of several celebrities to be circulated around the Internet — may not just lead to criminal charges against the alleged hacker. Subsequent downloads or views of the photos may have left other Internet users culpable as well.

As we mentioned above, some people across the nation, including here in California, are wondering if accessing these photos may also constitute as a sex crime as well. The reason for this was because of a comment made on Twitter by actress Lena Dunham who rushed to label the alleged hackers as “sex offenders.”

Although such labeling may not have any legal standing, this does not make it any less damaging. Depending on state laws and where potential prosecution may be held, accessing such information may be considered a sex crime and could be prosecuted as such. Regardless though, both sets of crimes are considered incredibly serious and can lead to equally severe consequences. This would further necessitate the need for good criminal defense and a lawyer who is well-versed in both cybercrimes and sex crimes law.

Source: The Washington Post, “Leaked nude celebrity photos: When a cybercrime becomes a sex crime,” Gail Sullivan, Sept. 2, 2014

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