News / Canada

'Revenge porn' site taken down as Nova Scotia RCMP launch investigation

HALIFAX — A web site featuring intimate images of women from one Nova Scotia region, apparently posted without their consent, has been taken down amid an RCMP investigation.

Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said Wednesday a woman in Pictou County complained to the force that the site had posted an intimate image without consent.

Although an officer initially told her no crime had been committed, he looked into recent Criminal Code changes and has launched an investigation, Clarke said.

"Initially, we said there's no expectation of privacy when sharing an intimate image, and then he realized a little bit later that there was an expectation of privacy pursuant to this new section of the code, 162.1."

Enacted last year, that section prohibits the sharing of intimate images without consent.

Pictou County resident Kayde Stanley said on Facebook she and a friend learned about the site because she and others had been asked for photos.

Stanley, whose image was not on the site, said women were being discussed in crude terms, and rated.

"Looking at this absolutely sickened me," she said on Facebook. "The majority of these women were most likely sharing their photos with trusted partners, with the understanding it was private, and now their images are being made public without their consent, and rated not even by strangers, but local 'men.'"

Stanley said she and her friend went to the RCMP. She said the officer's initial reluctance, and his "sender beware" suggestion to them, was "rape culture victim blaming."

Stanley did not return a call Wednesday for further comment.

Clarke said the site's Pictou County portal has been taken down, although she doesn't know by who. She said as far as she knows, the site's other geographical portals remain active.

"Given this new section we have to work with, you need to make sure you have the permission of the person ... or you could certainly be looking at being the subject of an investigation like this one," she said.

Clarke said people should always think about the possibilities before sharing an intimate image.

In a statement Wednesday, Sexual Health Nova Scotia, an association of several groups in the province, said it was gravely concerned by the discovery of what it called a "revenge porn" site.

"Taking and sharing intimate photographs is part of many people's normal, healthy sexual lives. No one should be shamed or embarrassed for taking such pictures. Nor does taking such pictures imply consent to share them freely," it said in the statement.

"Simply because someone shares intimate photos with certain individuals does not mean they have consented to share those photos with everyone. Victims of revenge porn are not at fault for expecting partners to respect their privacy and consent."