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July 15, 2019 - Comments Off on What to do if your sensitive information is leaked online

What to do if your sensitive information is leaked online


Earlier this year, a girl in Badin district of Sindh committed suicide.The reports revealed later that she was being blackmailed online by some local boys over her edited pictures. The perpetrators sent the edited images to her fiance and the engagement was called off. The blackmailing and shaming has been identified by the police as a cause of the suicide. 

These unfortunate incidents are not uncommon. A couple of years ago, Naila Rind a student at Sindh University, committed suicide following exploitation and blackmail by her ex-partner after the two exchanged photos of an intimate nature.

Blackmailing with sensitive images is a form of sexual violence that is derived by an intent to shame, control, humiliate, extort and terrorize victims. Being blackmailed with the threat of distribution of your pictures or discovering intimate images of yourself online posted without your consent can leave severe emotional damage and physical repercussions for a person. This has pushed so many people, mostly women, towards committing suicide in extreme case due to the cultural pressure of shame and guilt. 

It’s important that we are aware of our digital rights and the laws which exist to protect those rights. 

What does the law say about it? 

In reference to Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016:
Intentionally and publicly exhibiting sensitive images and videos which is harmful to a natural person or his reputation to take revenge, blackmail or create hatred shall be punished under s21 of PECA for a term which may extend to five years.

Even if the pictures or videos were initially shared  with someone consensually they have no right to share it with other people or use them online.

Blackmailing people with their intimate and sensitive images and threatening to upload or distribute those images to the victim’s family is equally punishable under law.

What to do if your sensitive images or videos are leaked online? 

Don't Panic:

it is inevitable to feel anxious and overwhelmed at this trying time but try disengaging from these feelings for a bit and finding ways to get through it. It may seem hard but it’s not impossible.

Know your rights:

The intention of the perpetrator is to control you by trapping you into guilt or cycle of blackmail. Know that the only person who is guilty of offense is the person who is withholding your data without your consent and blackmailing you to distribute it to other people.

Look for online removal of your data:

If you discover your sensitive images or videos online, try to look for the reporting mechanism of the website and file a copyright complaint asking to remove your data. Social media websites already have built in mechanisms to deal with such privacy violations.

Report to law enforcement authorities:

There are more than 15 Cybercrime Wings of FIA working throughout the country to enforce the law. Go to your nearest FIA office and file a complaint. Make sure that you gather all the evidence and print it out before you go along with an application addressed to the Deputy Director of the relevant FIA office.

Help is just a ring away:

If you are unable to report sensitive information or get it removed, know that you can call us on our cyber harassment helpline and we will help escalate the process in getting them removed.
Even if you’re feeling emotional distress, you can call us and our mental health expert. This is a traumatic experience and it is completely normal for someone to feel violated.

Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Blog

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