online consent by grant

Online Consent Interview


By Grant Robins (feat. Libby)

(Trigger warning: Child porn [discussed, not shown], sexuality)

    On the 22nd of March, Nova had its first Consent Day. Everybody at the school was required to attend two workshops in order to be marked as present for their classes. Each workshop incorporated different kinds of consent: sexual and non-sexual contact, online, verbal, and others. When I looked at the list of workshops, I saw that my friend, Libby, was running an online consent class with some others. (To my surprise, I later found out that Libby was the main push behind us getting this event.) If you’re like me, you may be wondering what online consent even is. Here’s an interview with Libby, summarizing the information that was shared with us.



    What is online consent?

    “Online consent is the same idea as consent in real life. It’s essentially giving your permission to somebody else to do something that involves you. This could include your permission for somebody to share a photo of you, for them to share something with you (that may or may not be appropriate), giving permission to meet up with them in real life, etc. If you don’t want someone to do something involving you online, you don’t have to give your consent; however, a person is more likely to go through with something non-consensual online because you are not face-to-face with them.”

    What should you do if a person were to do something involving you, but without your consent, online?

    “This depends on the situation. If it’s something minor, like someone posting a photo you were in to social media, the best thing you can do is talk to them and request them to take it down. There’s a lot of nitpicky details that could completely change the scenario of this issue. If you were on public property when the photo was taken, legally they are allowed to use that picture. The good thing is that social platforms like Facebook and Instagram have a report feature where you can report a person’s post for containing a photo of you without your permission. This is against their terms of service, so if they deem it to be true, the photo will be taken down. There can also be more serious cases, like nudes that are sent to you without asking.”

One thing I noticed in the workshop was how surprised a lot of the students were when they told us that sending nudes of ourselves, while under the age of eighteen, can get you charged with distribution of child pornography.

“This gives you a felony, and it will follow you for your entire life. If the person who sent you the nude happens to be under the age of eighteen, you could get the same sentence, even if you did not ask for them to send you the picture / they didn’t ask you before sending the picture. Do not screenshot these photos to report it to the police. You will be digging yourself into a deeper hole.”

What counts as pornography?

“Unfortunately, this is a very broad term. It could vary, depending on who you’re asking. For most people, someone in their underwear is where photos start to be considered as porn.”

I’d like to thank Libby for allowing me to interview her, and for putting together such a cool and student-driven event.

Here are some other random facts that I wrote down from the workshop:

  • Screenshotting is legal, as long as the photo does not contain illegal content.

  • If you’re being cyberbullied (online harassment), easiest thing to do is report and block the person.

  • Sending nudes while underage is distribution of child pornography.

  • Receiving a nude from someone underage, even without consent, is still illegal.

  • If a photo is “sexually suggesting”, it is classified as pornography. The definition is very broad.

  • Texting someone mean things is classified as harassment.

  • Age of consent in Washington is 16.

  • Statutory rape is sex that was consensual but is still against the law.

  • Taking pictures of people without consent on public property is legal.

  • If you ask someone their age online and they claim to be over 18 so you send nudes, but they’re not, you can still be prosecuted.

  • If you’re being harassed by someone at Nova, go to Mark or Evya. If they go to another school, contact their school’s authorities, or ask Mark or Eyva to.