Matt Gaetz thought he could ‘do what he wanted’ with women’s nudes, a colleague said. That’s not how it works.

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) awaits the State of the Union address in the chamber of the House of Representatives on February 4, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Matt Gaetz once said the recipient of a private image could do with it what they want, his former colleague said this week.
  • The Florida lawmaker has recently been accused of sharing nude images of women in Congress.
  • Insider spoke to an expert to find out why this common assumption is wrong and also dangerous.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When the state senate in Florida passed a bill that would ban nonconsensual pornography back in 2015, only two lawmakers voted against it. One of them was Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Former state Rep. Tom Goodson, who was the main sponsor of the legislation at the time, told the Orlando Sentinel this week that when he met with Gaetz to discuss his opposition, it was clear that “Matt was absolutely against it.”

“He thought the picture was his to do with what he wanted,” Goodson said, according to the Sentinel. “He thought that any picture was his to use as he wanted to, as an expression of his rights.”

Read more: A Trump appointee who drank vodka and had sex on the General Services Administration building’s roof is back with a new political committee, documents show

Gaetz’s supposed outlook has become even more problematic now that the lawmaker is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly showing several colleagues in Congress nude videos and images of women he’d slept with. This is on top of an already existing sex trafficking probe.

What is most striking about Goodson’s claims this week is Gaetz’s supposed assumption that the recipient of a private photo can do what they want with it. This is not only wrong, but also dangerous for victims of image-based abuse.

According to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, the very definition of nonconsensual pornography, otherwise known as revenge porn, is “the distribution of private, sexually explicit images of individuals without their consent.”

Amy Hasinoff, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver who recently co-authored a study on image-based abuse, told Insider: “Just because someone consented to send a photo doesn’t mean the receiver has consent to distribute it. That’s a completely separate act.”

“If somebody wants to distribute your sexual images, they have to get your permission first,” she added.

For Hasinoff, this should be a no-brainer. It should be obvious that certain pieces of information – whether it’s health, financial, or sexual information – are meant to be private. It should be obvious that, like any other sex act, consent should be sought before sharing private images.

But unfortunately, nonconsensual pornography is still far too prevalent. A nationwide study in 2017 found that 1 in 8 Americans who have social media have been targets of image-based abuse. Women were significantly more likely to have been targets compared to men.

On top of this, the consequences of this crime can be devastating: 51% of US victims have contemplated suicide, according to research carried out by the campaign End Revenge Porn.

“We need to dispel the myth that the victim has done anything wrong”

Many victims of image-based abuse suffer from bad mental health because they end up becoming the subject of slut-shaming and victim-blaming. The very name “revenge porn” is misleading because it implies that the perpetrators are motivated by revenge.

Former Rep. Katie Hill, who was forced to resign from Congress in 2019 after nude images of her were leaked, told Fortune last year: “We need to dispel the myth that the victim has done anything wrong. When you hear…’She should never have taken those photos’ we’re talking about photos in many cases that were not even taken consensually, let alone distributed consensually.”

Hill is still struggling from the fall-out of what happened: She recently lost a lawsuit against the Daily Mail for publishing the photos of her (her team plans on appealing the case.)

katie hill congress
Former Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) answers questions from reporters at the Capitol following her final speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on October 31, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Like many victims, her mental health has also suffered. “One of the most overwhelming feelings is knowing that the vast majority of people who know who I am if I encounter them on the street and they recognize me. I have to hold it within my mind that there’s a very good chance they’ve seen my naked pictures,” she told Fortune.

“That’s a really shitty thing to think about,” she added.

After leaving Congress, Hill vowed to campaign against revenge porn, most likely why the recent Gaetz allegations have hit her hard.

Last week, the former Representative tweeted that she felt “depressed, anxious, nauseated” by the new claims, especially because she once considered Gaetz an unlikely ally (he had defended her during the scandal.)

“I have to wonder about what his motives were when he defended me back then,” Hill said in an interview with CNN on Friday. “Knowing now that that could’ve been just because he was trying to kind of cover-up for whatever his own indiscretions were or be able to use my name and invoke that defense later on. It’s just gross.”

For Hill and other campaigners, the fight is still far from over.

At the time of writing, 46 states, the District of Columbia, and one territory have revenge porn laws. However, they’re still relatively new, contain many loopholes, and change drastically within each state. Conviction rates also remain very low.

Masinoff told Insider that one way to solve this problem is to make it clear to people that behavior like this is unacceptable – and even deadly. And it starts with not assuming you can share a private image as you wish.

“Most of the response to this problem has been to create sort of new criminal laws to try to punish people for doing it,” Masinoff said. “I understand that that’s sort of the tool that we have right now, but it’s wrong that this is one of the only ways we can tell people that their behavior is bad.”

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Ex-Rep. Katie Hill loses lawsuit against Daily Mail for publishing nude photos of her, accuses judge of thinking ‘revenge porn is free speech’

katie hill congress
Then-Rep. Katie Hill answers questions from reporters at the Capitol following her final speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Oct. 31, 2019.

  • A judge dismissed Katie Hill’s lawsuit against the Daily Mail over the outlet publishing nude photos of her.
  • The judge ruled that the photos were a matter of public concern. Hill’s attorney said they intend on appealing the case.
  • The former congresswoman accused the judge of thinking “revenge porn is free speech.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Los Angeles judge dismissed former Rep. Katie Hill‘s lawsuit against the Daily Mail over the outlet publishing what she called on Twitter, “nonconsensual nude images” of her.

Los Angeles Judge Yolanda Orozco ruled Wednesday that the photos were a “matter of public concern,” the Orange County Register reported.

“I sued the Daily Mail for their publication of my nonconsensual nude images,” Hill wrote in the tweet on Wednesday. “Today, we lost in court because a judge – not a jury – thinks revenge porn is free speech.”

“This fight has massive implications for any woman who ever wants to run for office, so quitting isn’t an option,” she added.

Hill filed a lawsuit under the “revenge porn law” against the Daily Mail, her ex-husband Kenny Heslep, and Salem Media Group, which owns the conservative blog RedState which published a nude picture of Hill with a campaign aide in 2019.

The ex-Congresswoman was elected as a Democratic representative from California in 2018. In 2019, allegations emerged that Hill had sexual relationships with campaign and congressional staffers, which she initially denied but later confirmed she had a relationship with one campaign staffer. In late October, the Daily Mail published nude photos of her with a campaign aide, which prompted the Hill’s lawsuit against the tabloid. She resigned in light of the nude photos and allegations.

She sued her ex-husband, accusing him of leaking the photos to RedState and the Daily Mail. The media outlets maintained that the publication of the photos was not in violation of the law under the First Amendment.

Legal experts told Insider’s Jacob Shamsian that the lawsuit may not stand in court because of the First Amendment, but the suit against Hill’s ex-husband still has good chances.

The judge ruled that the photos reflected Hill’s “character, judgment and qualifications for her congressional position.”

Hill’s attorney Carrie A. Goldberg tweeted that they intend on appealing the case, saying that she and Hill think an “appellate court will disagree” that the publication of the photos are protected under the First Amendment and that the case was dismissed on anti-SLAPP grounds.

Goldberg added that dismissing the case “sets a dangerous precedent for victims of nonconsensual pornography everywhere.”

“Anybody who dares enter the public eye should now have legitimate concern that old nude and sexual images can be shared widely and published by any person or media purporting to have journalistic intentions,” Goldberg wrote. “This ruling has the exact opposite effect California’s revenge porn intended – which was to reduce and not amplify or promote nude images without consent.”

“Today we have victims of revenge porn who are being frozen out – who are losing access to our judicial system and the freedom to dream big if they have anybody in their past with nude images they can share,” Goldberg continued.

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‘Depressed, anxious, nauseated’: Katie Hill reacts to allegations Matt Gaetz shared nude images of women on House floor

katie hill matt gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida (L) and former Rep. Katie Hill of California (R).

  • Former Rep. Katie Hill said Saturday she felt “nauseated” following the Matt Gaetz allegations.
  • Hill was forced to resign in October 2019 after nude images of her were published by the DailyMail.
  • Gaetz has been accused of showing his colleagues nude images of women on the House floor.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill said she felt “depressed, anxious, and nauseated” following reports that former colleague Matt Gaetz faces a sex trafficking investigation.

In addition to allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution, Gaetz this week has been accused of showing other lawmakers images of nude women he claimed to have slept with, according to a CNN report. The Florida Republican is said to have shown these photos both in private and on the House floor.

Hill was forced to resign in October 2019 after nude images of her were leaked by British tabloid The Daily Mail.

The report also detailed claims she was involved in a polyamorous relationship with her ex-husband and a female campaign staffer during her run for Congress, an allegation she later admitted to and apologized for.

Read more: Republicans are unloading on Rep. Matt Gaetz in gossipy texts and snide asides amid reports of a DOJ sex investigation: ‘He’s the meanest person in politics’

She blamed her estranged husband at the time for the publication of the photos and left Congress vowing to combat revenge porn.

“The last few days I’ve been depressed, anxious, nauseated, and haven’t wanted to leave the house or even talk to people I love,” she said on Twitter on Saturday. “If you’ve been a victim of non-consensual intimate image abuse and are feeling the same way, please reach out to CCRI. You’re not alone.”

Hill and Gaetz struck an unlikely friendship while serving together in Congress.

In 2019, Gaetz defended Hill during her scandal, tweeting at the time: “I serve on Armed Services with Katie and while we frequently disagree on substance, she is always well-prepared, focused, and thoughtful.”

Hill also jumped to Gaetz’s defense in 2020 when he revealed that he had raised a young man from Cuba as his son.

Revenge porn” is the act of non-consensually sharing explicit photos online. It has been an increasing concern for celebrities and public figures. It especially affects women.

Many experts say the name “revenge porn” is misleading because it implies the victim must have done something to deserve the crime when this is almost always not the case, Insider reported previously.

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A British TV network is facing criticism for airing a deepfake version of the Queen’s Christmas speech, where she mocks Harry and Meghan for moving to Canada

Deepfake Queen
Channel 4’s deepfake depiction of Queen Elizabeth II

  • Channel 4, a British television channel, has sparked controversy with a deepfake video portraying an alternative festive broadcast set to be broadcast on Friday.
  • The video depicts the Queen discussing controversial Royal Family stories, including Prince Andrew’s connections to Jeffrey Epstein, and the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from the family.
  • Channel 4 said it intends the video to provide a “stark warning” about deepfake technology and fake news.
  • Critics, however, say that the video makes it seem as though deepfakes are more widespread than they actually are.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

British broadcaster Channel 4 has sparked controversy with a deepfake video portraying an alternative festive broadcast set to be broadcast on Friday.

Queen Elizabeth II releases a yearly video address to the nation at 3pm on Christmas Day, reflecting on the highs and lows of the previous year. The message usually focuses on a single topic, and in 2020 it will likely focus on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the UK.

Channel 4’s alternative, however, will be a little different.

The five-minute video shows a digitally altered version of the Queen, voiced by actor Debra Stephensen, discussing several of the Royal Family’s most controversial moment this year, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure from royal duties, and the Duke of York’s relationship with disgraced financier and alleged sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, The Guardian reported.

In a short clip of the video published by the BBC shows the fake Queen joking that: “There are few things more hurtful than someone telling you they prefer the company of Canadians,” in reference to Harry and Meghan’s move to Canada.

 

The video was orginally intended to give a “stark warning” about deepfake technology and fake news.

Ian Katz, Channel 4’s director of programmes, told the Guardian that it was a “powerful reminder that we can no longer trust our own eyes.”

However, the project has somewhat backfired, with experts remarking that the video suggests that deepfake technology is more common than it actually is.

“We haven’t seen deepfakes used widely yet, except to attack women,” Sam Gregory, the programme director of Witness, an organization using video and technology to protect human rights, told the Guardian.

“We should be really careful about making people think that they can’t believe what they see. If you’ve not seen them before, this could make you believe that deep fakes are a more widespread problem than they are,” he added.

Deepfake technology has become an increasing issue, especially targeting women with non-consensual deepfake pornography.

A chilling investigation into a bot service that generates fake nudes has highlighted that the most urgent danger internet “deepfakes” pose isn’t disinformation – it’s revenge porn.

Deepfake-monitoring firm Sensity, previously Deeptrace, on Tuesday revealed it had discovered a huge operation disseminating AI-generated nude images of women and, in some cases, underage girls.

The service was operating primarily on the encrypted messaging app Telegram using an AI-powered bot.

Deepfakes expert Henry Ajder told the Guardian: “I think in this case the video is not sufficiently realistic to be a concern, but adding disclaimers before a deepfake video is shown, or adding a watermark so it can’t be cropped and edited, can help to deliver them responsibly.

“As a society, we need to figure out what uses for deepfakes we deem acceptable, and how we can navigate a future where synthetic media is an increasingly big part of our lives.

“Channel 4 should be encouraging best practice.”

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