Learning from revenge porn: Online rights are human rights | Emma Holten | TEDxDonauinsel

Learning from revenge porn: Online rights are human rights | Emma Holten | TEDxDonauinsel


Translator: Mohand Habchi
Reviewer: Denise RQ Hi, I’m the victim
of an online consent violation. It might seem like a weird wording to you, but I really hope by the end of this talk that consent is going to be
a central tenet of how you speak about online rights. So let’s start, what happened to me? In 2011, I woke up, and I couldn’t enter
my email or Facebook. By the time I gained access into it, I realized that I have been a victim
of what is right now called revenge porn. But let’s walk through
what happened to me. At some point, a person decides
that they will violate my consent. They break into my email,
they steal my private material, they publish it online, and then a site
starts profiting off of it, all against my consent,
most of it illegal. Now we call it revenge porn. Because we call it that, you might know what I’m talking about
is graphic material. For a long while, I also thought that this was bad
because it was graphic material. I thought I felt shame and I felt pain,
because it was graphic. But I realized, when I looked around me, that loads of people
were publishing graphic material, were participating in graphic acts,
and they were fine. It was not a problem for them,
but it was a problem for me. I realized that it was a problem
because I hadn’t consented, because it was against my will, that it was not about
the content of the material, but about the relationship
that I had with the material. This revealed to me some issues
with how we talk about consent, and especially, how we talk
about privacy and online rights. Right now, when we talk
about privacy and online rights, we use the word private material. Private material refers to… yeah, no one actually really knows
what private material is. Is it our address, is it our name,
is it our phone number, what is it? We use it all the time. Governments, journalists
all talk about this private material, but none of us really knows what it is. And it’s really important, because it seems that a lot of people
do worry about surveillance, you’ve all heard about the NSA,
you’ve all heard about Edward Snowden, and you’ve probably heard
of people like me. All these things are related,
it all about internet rights. When we talk about privacy, we put
the focus on the nature of the content, but the problem is, private content
is different to everyone. Everyone has a different relationship
with different types of content. I want to switch our conversation
from privacy to consent. Every individual’s right to consent
needs to be in focus. We cannot,
from a normative standpoint, say which type of content
should be able to be published, or surveilled, or taken in,
and which shouldn’t. There is no such rule
to make that apply to all. We can’t have powerful people [drawing] a line between public
and private material, and saying, “OK, we decide that you can publish
a person’s phone number.” Or “We decide that you could publish a picture of a person
without asking them.” Because we all have
different relationships to privacy. We need to put the focus
on the individual rights to consent. There are different reasons
why this matters. The primary one to me
is the democratic one, because who are the people
who are victimized, when we use a norm
to define something for everyone? It is the people
who are already on the margins, and who are already vulnerable. It is young women for example,
like it was for me, who live a life
with marginalized sexual options. Sex is used to shame young women, and if that happens in real life, it’s going to be used
on the Internet as well. It is people who are victims
of homophobia, or transphobia, who are already vulnerable in society. These are the people
who need their privacy most. So when we talk about privacy
from a normative standpoint, what we do is we marginalize people
who are already vulnerable, and we deny rights to the people
who need them the most. This is a democratic issue, and if we do not focus
on the individual’s right to consent, we are going to end up reproducing
the same systems of oppression that we have in the real world. Consent of the individual is
a central democratic point of the Internet and I’m going to tell you, none of us
have the right to consent today. None of us has the right to say, “I want to decide
what is collected off from me, and what I want to decide
what is published.” That is what I found out,
and it is a democratic problem. Even though I am a known activist now, I will never have the right to have
those old pictures taken down of me, because we haven’t decided
that it’s a right yet. I don’t have a right to consent
and neither does anyone on earth. This is a huge democratic problem. We need to create awareness. This loose word privacy
that none of us really knows what means has made it extremely difficult
for people to relate to these things. We hear this talk of privacy all the time, it’s always like, “Oh, internet privacy, they are looking up
your private information, we find out that the American government
can find our metadata,” – what is metadata, no one really knows – This has created apathy: we all care about our online rights,
but we don’t know enough about it. Why? I think the word is privacy,
it’s gotten twisted out of hand: First of all, we made it sound like if a person demands
online rights and strict online privacy, we call them an outlier, we say, “What do you want to hide? What is that it’s so weird that you think
people are going to find about you? Why do you want privacy
so much more than anyone else?” This is a mistake. Wanting online privacy
and wanting the right to consent should be everyone’s basic right. That’s because we use the word privacy, we make it sound
as if it’s keeping secret, as if someone who wants
privacy is an outlier, someone doing something
a little shoddily, a little weird. If we use the word consent, it’s something
that everyone can relate to, everyone will relate
to the need for consent. I think we all have a pretty regular life,
but we all also want the right to consent. We say, like for example,
“I’m a political activist.” That makes me vulnerable in one way,
I don’t want my address to be public. For some people,
they wouldn’t mind, but I do mind. I we shift the conversation to consent, we make it much more easier
for people to understand what’s actually happening
with their information online. I think that’s important. Also, like I talked about before,
there is the democratic issue. There is the issue
of not focusing on consent, making people on the margins
even more vulnerable. Meaning the people who [question]
the top of the status quo, people who question sources of power, people who do stuff
that makes them vulnerable, who challenge norms. We need these people, we, as a collective, should protect them
and protect their rights. If we form a powerful standpoint, make a normative judgment
about what privacy is we make these people extra vulnerable,
and we don’t want that. We want an Internet
that is more progressive, that is more collectively embracing
of people who challenge the status quo, and who makes the world a better place
in and outside the Internet. That’s why we need to focus on consent and not on a construction
of abstract privacy as we do now. Consent should be our focus,
because we want a better world, and we want the Internet
to be a driver of a better world. If we don’t focus on consent, it will be at the cost
of political dissidents, it will be at the cost
of sexual and gender minorities, it will be at the behest
of racial and ethnic minorities, people who are already vulnerable. Every individual
should have the right to consent, and we don’t right now. This is extremely important. It’s not about privacy,
it’s not about keeping secret, it’s about getting to decide what is front stage
and what is back stage. It’s the central part
of what it means to be human. There is no difference between real life
and the Internet anymore, these things are the same, and of course, we should have
the same rights online. Even if it’s difficult,
it’s a fight that it’s worth fighting, because then we make an Internet
that is even better than the real life that we have right now. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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