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Dutch court orders Facebook to identify revenge porn poster

Facebook has a legal obligation to provide information about a user who posted a revenge porn video on the site, a Dutch court has ruled

A Dutch court has ordered Facebook to identify a user who posted a revenge porn video on the social networking site or face a search of its servers by investigators.

Revenge porn usually refers to the posting of sexually explicit images on social media to embarrass former partners, but is also making its way into the enterprise, according to a former FBI officer.

Both forms of revenge porn are also being used to extort money from targets in exchange for removing the content.

The FBI has seen cases where disgruntled employees seeking revenge have paid hackers to inject child porn into managers’ computers, former FBI Computer Intrusion Unit head Don Codling told a Storm Guidance seminar in London.

In the Dutch case, a 21-year-old woman from the town of Werkendam sued Facebook after an explicit video featuring her and a former boyfriend was posted on the site in January 2015.

Although the video was removed from Facebook a month after it was posted, cached versions can still be found on the internet.

In June, Google changed its policy to remove revenge porn from search results on request by the target of the attack.

The Dutch court has given Facebook two weeks to identify and provide contact and other details of the user who posted the video. The former boyfriend in the video has denied posting it to Facebook.

But Facebook claims it does not have details of the user after the account used to post the video was deleted, but the woman’s lawyers dispute this, saying Facebook “records everything”.

"Facebook has a legal obligation to provide the information because the unknown person acted illegally and the information cannot be obtained elsewhere," the Dutch court ruled.

If Facebook fails to provide the requested details, the court has ordered an investigation by an independent third party to verify that the data is gone and no longer traceable.

Facebook told Reuters in a statement that the "offending account was ultimately deleted before we received any request for user data.

“We deeply empathise with the victim's experience and share her desire to keep this kind of non-consensual imagery off of Facebook," the social networking firm said.

As revenge porn has become increasingly common, legislation has been passed in various countries to criminalise the practice, including the UK, Germany, Israel and 18 US states.

UK legislation providing up to two years’ imprisonment for revenge porn offenders was introduced in February 2015 as an amendment of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

In 2014, there was a call for criminalisation of the practice by UK charities, including Women’s Aid, which said revenge porn was a form of coercive control that is central to domestic violence.

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