New regulation in place
As reported in the Navy Times, it is now a crime to post a naked photograph of a service member serving in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps. The new regulation is in response to the nude sharing scandal that rocked the military world when a reporter told the tale of a private Facebook group sailors and Marines used to trade private pictures.
“An interim revision to Navy regulations prohibits Navy and Marine Corps personnel from posting intimate photos “if the person making the distribution or broadcast does so without legal justification or excuse,” the regulation reads.
The new statute details three conditions that will be considered a violation of Navy regulations, including if images are broadcast or transmitted: “with the intent to realize personal gain; with the intent to humiliate, harm, harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce the depicted person; or with reckless disregard as to whether the depicted person would be humiliated, harmed, intimidated, threatened, or coerced.”
This new regulation, signed off by acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley, is effective immediately – meaning right now. It's designed to act as a band aid until the next edition of Navy regulations in printed.
“The addition of Article 1168 ‘Nonconsensual distribution or broadcasting of an image' to Navy Regulations serves to underscore leadership's commitment to eliminating degrading behaviors that erode trust and weaken the Navy and Marine Corps Team,” said Rear Adm. Dawn Cutler in statement Wednesday evening. “It provides commanders another tool to maintain good order and discipline by holding Sailors and Marines accountable for inappropriate conduct in the nonconsensual sharing of intimate imagery.
Admiral Cutler added:
“This article adds the potential charge of Article 92 ‘Failure to obey [an] order or regulation' to the possible charges that can be used against an alleged perpetrator. Each case of alleged misconduct will be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.”
According to the Navy Times piece:
“The regs now define an “intimate image” as “any visual depiction, including by electronic means, that includes another person who is identifiable from the depiction itself or from information conveyed in connection with the depiction; depicts that person engaging in sexually explicit conduct or depicts the private area of that person; and taken under circumstances in which the person depicted had a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
Brian Bouffard, a former Navy JAG and now private lawyer, believes the new regs would be very hard to prove in court.
“As an example, Bouffard pointed to the “reckless disregard” language, which stipulates that if you just don’t care that someone might be “humiliated, harmed, intimidated, threatened, or coerced,” you can be punished. That language is a clear reaction to the photo-swapping that was going on in the Marines United Facebook page, as well as on other message boards throughout seedy corners of the internet.
“But if you don’t know a person, how could you know that about them?” Bouffard said. “Ultimately prosecuting these types of cases will probably require a witness to testify that they were either humiliated or harmed, etc., for the government to make an effective case.”