An Australian man has been jailed for six months for posting nude pictures of his former lover on Facebook.
It is the first social networking-related conviction in Australian history and one of just a handful in the world, according to the Fairfax media.
Court documents revealed Ravshan ''Ronnie'' Usmanov, 20, of Sydney, posted six nude photos of his ex-girlfriend on Facebook shortly after they broke up. The photos showed his ex-girlfriend "nude in certain positions and clearly showing her breasts and genitalia."
Usmanov, a credit controller for a shipping company, reportedly told police:
"I put the photos up because she hurt me and it was the only thing [I had] to hurt her."
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Usmanov emailed his girlfriend after he posted the photos to Facebook, saying: “Some of your photos are now on Facebook.” The woman, who was not identified, pleaded with Usmanov to take down the photos. When he refused, she called the police.
Deputy-Chief Magistrate, Jane Mottley, said: "New-age technology through Facebook gives instant access to the world. Facebook as a social networking site has limited boundaries. Incalculable damage can be done to a person’s reputation by the irresponsible posting of information through that medium. With its popularity and potential for real harm, there is a genuine need to ensure the use of this medium to commit offenses of this type is deterred.”
In 2010, the Dominion Post reported on New Zealand man Joshua Simon Ashby, 20, who was sentenced to four months in jail for posting a naked photo of his ex-girlfriend on Facebook.
His act was described as one of "irresponsible drunken rage" by presiding judge, who also said: "Technology can't be used in this way. You would do incalculable damage to someone's reputation."
Usmanov's ex-girlfriend, who Fairfax chose not to identify, had ended their relationship and moved out of their shared home less than three months before he posted the photos.
Fairfax cited Australian privacy experts as saying the case has exposed the ''tip of the iceberg'' of online offenses that were rarely punished.
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David Vaile, executive director of the cyberspace law and policy center at the University of New South Wales, said online harassment was not taken as seriously as physical offenses.
''There are very few convictions under harassment and indecent publication, he told Fairfax. "It's not treated as the same way as, say, breaking into a bank website. There is more police support for criminal damage. In this case, he didn't slash her tires in an act of revenge. He slashed her reputation.''
The legality or otherwise of posting nude photos of others without their permission in the US is unclear, though a Google search reveals several web forums devoted to the topic, including this one.
In sentencing Usmanov, Mottley reportedly said: "New-age technology through Facebook gives instant access to the world. Facebook as a social networking site has limited boundaries. Incalculable damage can be done to a person's reputation by the irresponsible posting of information through that medium. With its popularity and potential for real harm, there is a genuine need to ensure the use of this medium to commit offenses of this type is deterred.
''The harm to the victim is not difficult to contemplate: embarrassment, humiliation and anxiety at not only the viewing of the images by persons who are known to her but also the prospect of viewing by those who are not. It can only be a matter for speculation as to who else may have seen the images, and whether those images have been stored in such a manner which, at a time the complainant least expects, they will again be available for viewing, circulation or distribution.''
Usmanov's lawyer, Maggie Sten, had argued his was not a ''serious offense,'' to which Mottley fired back: ''What could be more serious than publishing nude photographs of a woman on the internet, what could be more serious?''
She added: ''It's one thing to publish an article in print form with limited circulation. That may affect the objective seriousness of the offense but once it goes on the worldwide web via Facebook it effectively means it's open to anyone who has some link in any way, however remotely.''
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