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Victims of voyeur sites can file criminal charges and seek compensation, say lawyers

SINGAPORE — Following a TODAY report that showed the existence of more than 70 sites that steal photos from Instagram accounts to cater to voyeurs, lawyers we spoke to said victims may take these steps:

Victims of voyeur sites can file criminal charges and seek compensation, say lawyers

Lawyers contacted by TODAY recommend three steps that victims may take if they find their photos appearing on sites catering to voyeurs.

SINGAPORE — Following a TODAY report that showed the existence of more than 70 sites that steal photos from Instagram accounts to cater to voyeurs, lawyers we spoke to said victims may take these steps:

  • Flag the posts as inappropriate on the platforms where they appear

  • Seek an injunction order under the Protection from Harassment Act to remove harassment content and seek potential compensation. This can be done through a lawyer or personally at the Harassment Cases Registry at the State Courts.

  • Make a police report and seek criminal charges against the perpetrator under Section 509 of the Penal Code, which is described as “word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman”. (The section will cover men as well once proposed changes to the law are enacted.)

Criminal lawyer Sunil Sudheesan, 39, said that the use of individuals’ photos on such voyeur sites can be considered as sexual harassment if the victims are identifiable and did not give consent to sharing their photos.

However, he noted that there is a grey area.

“Sharing profiles of public figures such as Megan Fox could also be seen as voyeuristic or a fan obsession,” he said.

Lawyer Josephus Tan of Invictus Law Corporation, 40, asserted that it is not illegal to create such accounts, but it can be illegal to pair them with sexually provocative captions.

“Even for those pages without such captions, it can still be considered intimidation or intrusion, under Section 509 of the Penal Code,” he said. This section criminalises acts that insult the modesty of a woman or intrude upon a woman’s privacy. The law does not protect men.

Mr Gino Singh, 46, the managing director of Abbots Chambers LLC, pointed out, though, that there is no law against the simple sharing of photographs that have no accompanying captions.

“It is difficult to guard against the possibility of screenshots (being circulated) even if your profile is not publicly available,” he said.

The Singapore Police Force said that victims who find their photos on voyeur sites may make a police report, call the police hotline, or submit information on www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.

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