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Cyber ExploitationCyber Exploitation

About Cyber Exploitation

Cyber exploitation is a crime, sometimes called "revenge porn."


Cyber exploitation is defined as the non-consensual distribution of intimate photos and/or videos. The private material may have been obtained by ex-lovers, by ex-spouses, or by complete strangers through hacking, theft of a cell phone, during a computer repair, a false personal ad, or "photoshopping." These photos or videos may be posted to humiliate and degrade the victims, to cause damage to their reputation, and/or used to extort them.

California Laws Govern Cyber Exploitation

It is illegal in California for any person who intentionally distributes the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person, or an image of the person depicted engaged in an act of sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration, or an image of masturbation by the person depicted or in which the person depicted participates, under circumstances in which the persons agree or understand that the image shall remain private, the person distributing the image knows or should know that distribution of the image will cause serious emotional distress, and the person depicted suffers that distress. The related statutes are described in the brochure developed as a resource for peace officers.

Resources for Law Enforcement

Enforcement statutes are found in the California Penal Code and Title 18 of the United States Code (USC).

New Legislation

During the 2015 California legislative session, Attorney General Kamala Harris sponsored two bills regarding cyber exploitation. Senate Bill No. 676 amends Penal Code section 502.01 and adds section 647.8 to the Penal Code. Assembly Bill No. 1310 amends Penal Code sections 786 and 1524.3, relating to disorderly conduct and unlawful distribution of images.

Both bills became effective January 1, 2016.