Protection of Personal Data and Sexual Exploitation
By Anastasia Karagianni
The murder of the 21-year old Eleni at Rhodes urged the Greek society to finally face the real “scale” that rape can reach. Rape is not only the sexual contact without the consent of the other person. It is the force to sexual intercourse, the physical violence or a serious and imminent threat, that are undertaken to commit this inadvertent sexual intercourse. Rape can result in death, as we have seen.
Nevertheless, sexual harassment exists also in the digital world. How? In recent times it takes place due to personal data breach. Specifically, studies show that 4% of the adolescents aged 12-17 admit that they have sent sexual messages, which depicted them naked or half-naked, to other users, and 15% of the adolescents confess that they have received such material. This is called “sexting”, namely, the exchange of photographs and messages with mainly sexual content using applications installed in smartphones or other electronic devices. However, sometimes the exchange of these messages is carried out without the consent of the depicted person. In this case, the right to privacy of the person depicted is violated.
What are these personal data? Personal data are information related to a person. They might contain “sensitive” or “non-sensitive” information. This information is becoming personal when connected, directly or indirectly, with the specific person. It therefore concerns different information, which, if gathered together, can lead to identification of an individual. This information, therefore, characterize the biological, physical and mental existence of the person as well as its social, political, financial and cultural existence. In this connection, because of the sexual content of the message, the naked/half-naked picture of the person is considered personal data, as it concerns the user’s sex life.
But how can the infringement of personal data lead to sexual exploitation? Since a picture appears in the internet, it is difficult to control its circulation. In most cases, these photographs are sent within the framework of a confidential relation between the sender and the recipient. So far, this does not create any problem. Problems arise when this relationship is harmed or based on false information. The circulation of this material in a secondary level without the consent of the person depicted, and several times without him/her knowing, to other users, constitutes an infringement of his/her priveacy and violation of his/her sexual integrity, when it takes place in view of leacher acts, and the trafficking of pornographic material.
About two years ago, Lina, 22-years old, committed suicide, falling from the ninth floor of her Student Residence in Thessaloniki. A prosecutor’s investigation has been ordered in order to make an online investigation for traces of possible criminal behaviour for observation, retention and processing of personal data, threats via the Internet for action or tolerance and committing felony association, as it seems that the girl regularly received threats that her personal pictures would be published on the Internet.
The New Regulation for the Protection of Personal Data of the European Union safeguards the right to be forgotten , the right to information and access to data, the right to correction and to objection against their processing.
The Greek legislation and the case-law provides a high level of protection. It only remains to be understood from us.
*If you face problems on the Internet and you are under 18 years old, call 2106007686. Trust the helpline of the National Centre for Safe Internet.