Last year, I was fortunate enough to be invited to join ten other stellar participants that included other attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement, academics and civil society representatives for a two-day brainstorming session sponsored by the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (working with RTI International and the RAND Corporation) on combating Technologically Facilitated Abuse from Doxxing to Revenge Porn. (The photo above left is the only one I took, from Dulles Airport on the flight home underneath the flag of my home state of Rhode Island.)
RAND has now published its summary, findings and recommendations from that session, in Countering Technology-Facilitated Abuse: Criminal Justice Strategies for Combating Nonconsensual Pornography, Sextortion, Doxing, and Swatting.
While our discussions were confidential, I can say that I emphasized:
- the harm such abuse inflicts on victims;
- the inconsistent response of law enforcement; and
- the reluctance or unwillingness of some judges to even address these issues (I have had multiple judges inform me that they do not do or like internet cases/evidence).
The report calls for greater awareness about technology-facilitated abuse and identifies ways to make the legal system more responsive to victims of such abuse and further research needed in this area.
I was particularly pleased it highlighted a point I emphasize frequently:
Updated statutes that more directly address TFA and its associated harms would better support law enforcement and prosecutors and also would signal that the offense is serious and needs to be prioritized
In addressing new forms of technologically-facilitated abuse, even if the conduct is prohibited by some older statute, there is a normative value of enacting conduct specific legislation to communicate to society and law enforcement this is wrong. Period. End of discussion.
I encourage you to check out the brief report and welcome your thoughts.