Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?

Last updated on July 30, 2020

girl feeling scared while looking at laptop

Having intimate or sexual photographs or videos of you posted online can be hugely embarrassing and damaging to your reputation. Posting them is illegal in Singapore and there can be serious legal consequences for people who do so, without your consent.

First Steps for Victims of Revenge Porn

If it comes to your attention that such material has been posted online, the first thing you must do is visit the website where it’s been posted and take screenshots and download the content as evidence.

Second, contact the administrator of the website if possible to request that the material be removed.

Bringing Your Case to Criminal Prosecution

If you wish to have the perpetrator criminally prosecuted, consider bringing your evidence to the police to make a police report.

The following are offences for which the perpetrator can be charged with:

1) Distributing or threatening to distribute intimate image or recording

Under section 377BE of the Penal Code, an offender can be sentenced to up to 5 years’ imprisonment, fined or caned (or any combination of these) for distributing or threatening to distribute intimate images or recordings. This is even if the threat is never carried out.

The intimate images or recordings need not actually be of you for an offence to be made out, as long as it can reasonably believed that the images or recordings are of you. For example, if the perpetrator Photoshops your face onto someone else’s naked body such that others might believe that it is you in the image.

2) Distribution of voyeuristic image or recording

Under section 377BC of the Penal Code, an offender can be sentenced to up to 5 years’ imprisonment fined or caned (or any combination of these) for distributing a voyeuristic image or recording.

If the victim is 14 years old and below, the offender will be sentenced to up to 5 years’ imprisonment, and either fined or caned.

3) Possession of or gaining access to voyeuristic or intimate image or recording

Under section 377BD of the Penal Code, an offender can be sentenced to up to 2 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine for having possession of or gaining access to voyeuristic or intimate images or recordings.

If the victim is 14 years old and below, the offender will be sentenced to up to 2 years’ imprisonment and fined or caned.

However, it is a defence to this charge if the accused only came upon the material by accident and stopped accessing it or deleted it immediately.

4) Intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress

Under section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act, an offender could face up to 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000 for intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress.

5) Unauthorised access to computer material

This would apply if the offender hacked into your computer or phone or used your password without your permission to obtain the intimate photographs or videos.

Under section 3 of the Computer Misuse Act, an offender could face up to 2 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000 for unauthorised access to computer material.

6) Distribution of obscene films (if the materials in question are videos)

Under section 29(3) of the Films Act, an offender could face up to 2 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $80,000 for distributing obscene films.

7) Offences involving obscene publications (if the materials in question are photographs)

Under section 11 of the Undesirable Publications Act, an offender could face up to 2 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for making, reproducing, or selling any obscene publication.

8) Transmission of obscene materials electronically

Under section 292 of the Penal Code, an offender could face up to 3 months’ imprisonment and/or fined for transmitting obscene materials electronically, (e.g. sending nude photos on WhatsApp).

If the victim is below 16 years old or looks below 16 years old in the obscene materials, the offender will be sentenced to up to 2 years’ imprisonment and/or fined.

In October 2019, a man was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for posting his ex-girlfriend’s nude photos online, among other charges. He was also ordered to dispose of his mobile phone that contained 10 obscene films of the victim.

Accused can be punished twice the maximum penalty

If the offender is or was in a close or intimate relationship with the victim, the punishments under sections 377BC, 377BD and 377BE of the Penal Code can be increased to up to twice the maximum, excluding the amount of caning received under section 377BC and 377BE.

Accused can make defences to the above offences

As mentioned above, it is a defence to the charge under section 377BD if the accused only came upon the material by accident and stopped accessing it or deleted it immediately.

It is also a defence to the charges under sections 377BC, 377BD or 377BE if the accused only had the material for any of the following purposes:

  • The prevention, detection, investigation or punishment of any offence;
  • The conduct of contemplated or pending proceedings in any court or tribunal or to obtain evidence for the purpose of contemplating such proceedings;
  • Safety or national security; and
  • The accused didn’t keep the material for any longer than necessary to advance one of those purposes.

Suing the Perpetrator

In addition to, or instead of, a criminal prosecution, you may wish to consider a civil suit against the perpetrator. This is because if a criminal prosecution goes ahead and the perpetrator is convicted and sentenced to a large fine, that fine will not be paid to you and you will not be compensated for the damage that you have suffered.

Hence, you may wish to settle the matter in civil court or even outside of court.

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Commencing or threatening to commence a civil suit also has the added benefit of allowing you to reach a settlement agreement with the perpetrator that includes an obligation to remove the offending material from the internet, if it is still within his/her power to do so.

If he/she agrees but subsequently fails to comply with this requirement, he/she would have breached the settlement agreement, potentially resulting in a full-blown civil suit over the breach and/or a criminal prosecution for the initial acts of revenge porn.

To sue the perpetrator, you could bring a claim for damages under section 11 of the Protection from Harassment Act for causing alarm or distress to you by publishing material that identified you.

If you do this, the perpetrator may decide to settle the matter out of court and pay you a settlement sum to avoid dragging the matter out in court, where the perpetrator’s own reputation would also be damaged.

Suing for defamation is not usually an appropriate cause of action for this scenario. This is because the photographs or videos would presumably be genuine and actually feature you, so they would probably not contain a falsehood about you that you could sue for defamation for.

If someone has posted intimate photographs or video of you online, or threatened to do so, contact a lawyer immediately.

The earlier the matter is brought to a lawyer, the greater the chance that the perpetrator can be persuaded to cooperate and the material hopefully deleted – before it gets spread too far and it becomes beyond the perpetrator’s control to undo what he/she has done.

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