Without My Consent
- General Issues
- Human Rights & Civil Rights
- Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice & Corrections
A not-for-profit empowering victims of online privacy violations and fighting against online harassment by engaging with industries, governments, advocates, and victims of online privacy violations to create publicly-accessible legal and educational materials.
Mission and Purpose
Without my Consent (WMC) is a non-profit organization seeking to combat online invasions of privacy, aimed at individuals who have been victims of non-consentual distribution of sexually explicit images of themselves, stalking, online harassment and other forms of privacy violations.
Origins and Development
Located in California, Without My Consent was co-founded by lawyers Colette Vogele (President), a fellow at the Center for Internet and Society and an attorney at Microsoft, and Erica Johnstone (Vice President), name partner of law firm Ridder, Costa, and Johnstone LLP, in San Francisco. The organization was started in 2011 after these two lawyers sued online trolls on behalf of three clients successfully using lawsuits filed anonymously to prevent continued unwanted attention towards the victim of a privacy violation. The organization's foundation and initial work was supported by the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, the Fenwick & West law firm, Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, and financially supported by donations from a fundraising effort. It specializes in providing information on anonymous lawsuits given they are scarcely used.
Organizational Structure and Funding
Public fundraising efforts were made in 2012 through a panel event, in San Francisco with a donation goal of 10,000 USD, and in 2016 Peerlyst teamed up to donate 10USD to the organization when each user signed up to their service during the RSA Conference.
In 2015 Without My Consent also obtained a Digital Trust Foundation grant for the 50-State Project, the Something Can Be Done! guide and a lawyer training program.
990 tax filings show total revenues of:
$ 53,164 for 2015 , $ 121,334 for 2016, and $67,912 for 2017 .
Specializations, Methods and Tools
Advisors from academia, legal and government practitioners, internet and privacy activists and experts collaborate on three large projects surrounding harassment, abuse, and exploitation online. The organization primarily focusses on public information campaigns and increasing access to legal help for those who have experienced online harassment or abuse. The organization also does it's own research and analysis of online harassment in order to collaborate on solutions.
Major Projects and Events
One of the projects is an ongoing compilation of current US state laws. As of August 2016 it contains information for California, Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. For each state, information on statutory civil law, common law, restraining orders, family law, statutory criminal law is posted with easy to understand interpretation of the law and grounded with legal precedents closely tied to unwilling publication of personal images and harassment. Furthermore, federal Statutory Civil Law and federal Statutory Criminal Law is provided. Case law, filing requirements and relevant statutes for all 50 US States and federal guidelines for civil and criminal proceedings filled pseudonymously are also explained in detail.
The second project is a guide geared at informing victims and legislators about appropriate steps for evidence protection, through their document Something Can Be Done! Resource Guide for Victims of Digital Abuse & Harassment, published March 1, 2016. It details how to approach and access legal advice that protects victims through pseudonymous lawsuits and copyright protection using take-down notices and copyright registration, as well as evidence preservation.
The third project is a victim survey on online stalking, harassment and privacy violations from July 2013 to February 2014. Preliminary findings suggest the majority of respondents experienced multiple episodes of harassment from multiple harassers (46.6%), and 71% reported that their harassment influenced their use of technology (p. 12 of report). The report also details what measures victims took to try to put an end to their harassment.
Without My Consent has been profiled in the New York Times Magazine, the This Week in Law podcast, and Forbes. It also had two panels at the South By Southwest Interactive conference in Austin in March 2012: Debate: Should Social Sites Allow Anonymous Users? with Electronic Frontier Foundation's legal director Cindy Cohn, and the Help! I Have An Internet Stalker or Blackmailer! panel.
Since Without My Consent was established, Twitter has changed its harassment policies, Google decided to remove sexually explicit images shared without consent and Microsoft's Bing search adopted reporting mechanisms for revenge porn.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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Official Website: http://www.withoutmyconsent.org/
The donation button for the website has a semi-broken link to their PayPal.