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sexual privacy, harassment, section 230


updated October 31, 2018


Those who wish to control and expose the identities of women and people from marginalized communities routinely do so by invading their privacy. People are secretly recorded in bedrooms and public bathrooms, and “up their skirts.” They are coerced into sharing nude photographs and filming sex acts under the threat of public disclosure of their nude images. People’s nude images are posted online without permission. Machine-learning technology is used to create digitally manipulated “deep fake” sex videos that swap people’s faces into pornography.

At the heart of these abuses is an invasion of sexual privacy—the behaviors and expectations that manage access to, and information about, the human body; gender identity and sexuality; intimate activities; and personal choices. More often, women and marginalized communities shoulder the abuse.

Sexual privacy is a distinct privacy interest that warrants recognition and protection. It serves as a cornerstone for sexual autonomy and consent. It is foundational to intimacy. Its recognition would acknowledge the subordinating impact of invasions of sexual privacy. Traditional privacy law’s efficacy, however, is eroding just as digital technologies magnify the scale and scope of the harm. Comprehensive legislation is essential to address all manner of sexual privacy invasions. This Article proposes a uniform approach to sexual privacy that includes federal and state penalties for privacy invaders, removes the statutory immunity from liability for certain content platforms, and works in tandem with hate crime laws.

Version of record available at Yale Law Journal here:

Publication Citation

128 Yale Law Journal 1870 (2019)


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Consumer Protection Law | Criminal Law | First Amendment | Internet Law | Law | Law and Gender | Privacy Law | Torts