Thursday, 20 August 2015

In Flagrante Delicto

(First appeared in New Era 25 March 2015)

This week’s column heading comes from the Medieval Latin word “In flagrante delicto” meaning “while the crime is burning”. This refers to being caught in the very act of wrongdoing. Today it most often refers to being caught in an act of sexual misconduct.
The past few months have seen a large number of celebrities, as well as a few local ladies, find themselves in hot water as their ex-lovers have posted nude pictures or other sexually explicit material over the social networks. This type of behaviour is referred to as “revenge porn” and even has websites where such material is welcomed. Namibia also joined this distasteful practice when a tertiary student posted a video of his ex-girlfriend recently online.
I have five daughters who grown up around me and had to from time to time remind them that certain behaviour is not “lady-like”. Being in the field of information technology and having access to many of the ICT tools early on, led me to seek a better understanding of how these tools will impact on our lives and more practically, how we should protect our privacy in this new world. One of the first “accidents” to happen with me and digital cameras was when one of my daughters took a picture of one of the other daughters doing their hair with rollers.. It was not any worse than seeing a picture of your daughter in a bikini, but seeing them take pictures with rollers in their hair was shocking. You see, in my Cape Coloured culture, it is considered extremely impolite to be seen with rollers in your hair on the street.
Now this picture had been taken during some foolish playing around and they did not realise that digital cameras automatically upload pictures on the camera roll to a PC when plugged in. This meant they probably were charging their camera in my PC and thus inadvertently sent me a picture of them with rollers in the hair. I immediately made an effort to speak to each of them on the dangers of the digital world, and even more harshly about having anything on film that would make their father blush. Hopefully they have taken this to heart because once you have made those naughty pictures or videos there is unfortunately no way you can “unboil the egg”.
It is thus for me doubly disturbing to see revenge porn become part of the culture of our land of the brave.  First, it is disturbing because this is a gross violation of privacy and shaming of a woman’s sexuality and secondly, because this could happen to me and my family as well. Revenge porn has become a new crime which still needs the legal framework to criminalise it. This can take several years, and in the meantime you can lay charges using existing laws regarding privacy, but they still leave much to be desired – and the pictures will be out there anyway.
So while we wait for consumer protection legislation, data privacy laws and criminalising of revenge porn, here is what you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim. If you still feel the need to send sexy or nude pictures or even make a sex video, protect yourself by taking the following steps: 1) Keep your face hidden from the camera. The pictures are for special person and they do not need to see your face as they know who it is. Maybe even put on a mask if need be. Remember, if your better half actually does leak your pictures, it will be hard to prove that it was you in the pictures; 2) Use smartphone applications such as Snapchat. These photo-sharing apps allow users to set up a time limit for how long their pictures can be viewed before they are deleted from the receiver’s device and the apps servers. (The time can be set for between 1 to 10 seconds.); and 3) make sure your pictures do not have anything identifying features such as a birthmark, a tattoo, self-made clothes or unique features in your home that will give away your identity.
Smile of the Week
The organisers of Independence Day celebrations for making sure there were tents over all the seating areas of the arena to protect the citizens from the rain.
Frown of the Week
Taxi drivers who are choosy and picky when it is raining. If it was not that I was so happy for the rain, I would boycott you when the sun is shining.