By: Terry Ahtziry Cardenas Banda, attorney, and former professor.
Now in our days, the internet and social media have become our main channel of communication, all aspects of our lives are continuously shared and exposed through the internet. These days it is very easy to share any type of personal information through social networks or electronic media. It is becoming increasingly easy to expose our lives on the networks, and also others can easily expose our intimate information on social networks. What happens if intimate information is exposed? Do others have the right to expose me? Do I have any kind of defense? Can I start a legal proceeding against those who expose me? Being in the border area, our personal data may be exposed both in Mexico and in the United States of America, so this article will seek to identify the regulations and means of defense provided in Baja California, Mexico, and California, USA.
In October, the state of California passed Senate Bill 255, which reformed section 647 of the state Penal Code, which highlights the urgency of protecting the exposure of intimate information without the person’s consent and declaring as misdemeanors certain actions that exhibit such information. The reform adds a section that imposes a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of $ 1,000 dollars to “any person who photographs or records by any means the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person, under circumstances where the parties agree or understand that the image shall remain private, and the person subsequently distributes the image taken, with the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and the depicted person suffers serious emotional distress.” In the case of minors, parents have the right to request that the intimate information be immediately removed from social networks or electronic media for the protection of the minor, as well as to proceed legally against whom said information is exposed.
Before the enactment of this law, the state of California allowed victims to sue the person who has exposed through a civil process, but this route is very expensive and time-consuming. With the new reform, the victims have a criminal route to assert their rights with the help of the authorities that will seek to protect the victim and provide justice through a criminal process.
On the other hand, in Baja California the article 175 of the penal code of the state establishes that “to whom having relationship of relationship by consanguinity, affinity or civil, with the victim or offended, or who is under the custody or custody, take advantage of the trust in the deposited, disseminate, reveal, transmit, reproduce images or audiovisual, with pornographic content without your consent, will be sentenced to imprisonment from six months to three years and from two hundred to five hundred days of fine. When there is lucrative encouragement in the disclosure of the content referred to in this article, the prison sentence shall be increased up to an additional half.” Similarly, article 224 regulates the crime of extortion that says: “to whom to obtain a profit obliges another, to perform or omit an act to the detriment of their assets or that of a third party, will be imposed with a prison term of six to ten years and up to four hundred days fine.” The crime of extortion applies in the event that a person is threatened with the display of their intimate information, such as paying money for not exposing photos, videos, etc.
The main difference between the two criminal regulations of the states of California and Baja California is that California law imposes the penalty on anyone who commits the crime of displaying a person’s intimate information such as photos, videos, among others, on the other hand, Baja California imposes the penalty if the person is related to the victim and exposes the information abusing their trust, however in the case of extortion it is against any person that threatened to exhibit the person’s information. That is why it is important in Mexico to update our legislation as other states in the country have already done so, to protect this type of exhibits to the full extent.
In addition to the above, it is important to know that the exposure of intimate information is a crime and victims in both Mexico and the United States can and should report to the authorities if their rights have been violated in this way, there are actions that can be taken and means of defense to protect them. If you have been a victim of this crime ask for help, identify the content on the networks, contact the authorities, consult a lawyer and start a legal procedure.