Military revenge porn may become illegal in 2018 NDAA

A House panel is taking a stand against revenge porn in the military with its recommendations for the 2018 defense authorization bill.

The House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee wants to make sharing intimate images of someone without his or her consent grounds for court martial.

The provision is modeled off a bill introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and passed unanimously in the House.

The language states that any service member who knowingly distributes or broadcasts an image made under circumstances in which the person in the photo retained a reasonable expectation of privacy will be subject to court martial.

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The provision stems from the Marines United scandal in March. Marines were sharing photos of women Marines as a means of intimidating them on a Facebook group. The group shared other images of women and harassed women on the internet with memes and sexually violent language. Some of the photos were taken without the women’s consent.

The Marine Corps updated its policy to strictly punish any Marine who shares a nude photo online without the other person’s consent.

The provision is part of the Marine Corps separation manual and states Marines will be kicked out of the service for “the distribution or broadcasting of an intimate image, without consent, if done for personal gain; or with the intent to humiliate, harm, harass, intimidate, threaten or coerce the depicted person.”

Commandant of the Marine Corps Robert Neller called the scandal “embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to our nation.”

The Marines United site may have been sharing photos for years.

The Marine Corps updated its social media policy in March when the scandal gained traction, reminding Marines they can be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“Existing orders and the UCMJ have long prohibited sexual or other harassment, fraternization, retaliation, reprisal and hazing. Marines are reminded that their conduct, even off-duty or online, may violate Navy and Marine Corps orders and regulations,” the policy stated.

The Army followed suit and released a letter on the conduct of soldiers.

The March 17 letter stated the Army expects “leaders and influencers from the squad level up to talk about and demonstrate what respect looks like at work, at home and online.”

The FBI and other military services are looking into other instances of photo sharing.

Army Director of Personnel Management Maj. Gen. Jason Evans said during a March 21 House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee hearing there is an ongoing, multi-service investigation into links between blogs on Tumblr and photo sharing on the Marines United site.

That investigation is looking into photos that may involve service members from more than one military branch.

As the scandal is unfolding, the Navy is pushing a new Leadership Development Framework throughout the service.

One of the most notable features of the framework is its emphasis on personal character.

“Character applies in an operational setting — it’s not just for the classroom. The best leaders mention it at briefs, during execution and during debriefs. They get out in front and avoid bad decisions. The strongest message comes through their personal example,” the framework stated.

Domestic abuse

The subcommittee is also expanding the training for special victims’ counseling.

The bill establishes training for special victims’ counsels to recognize and deal with the challenges faced by male victims of sexual assault.

It’s estimated about 6,300 men were sexually assaulted in the military in 2016, according to the Defense Department’s annual report on sexual assault in the military. The reporting rate is extremely low, however.

DoD is conducting webinars to support men who experienced sexual assault and is trying to combat retaliation associated with sexual assault reporting.