Sexting fall into the category of cyberethics. Sexting refers to teens sharing nude photos via cellphone or email, but it’s happening on other devices and the Web too at global level. The practice can have serious legal and psychological consequences. Sexting is not a new behavior; it is one that is accelerated by technology. As smart phones become more robust with the addition of cameras, video and internet capabilities, it’s easier to capture all manner of images and with a couple of quick clicks share them with another person or a group of people. As fast as technology changes and infuses our lives, laws and polices take a long time to catch up. In the case of sexting, when young people share intimate photos of others to embarrass, retaliate, or bully there had been no legal framework developed specifically to address the behavior. Law enforcement and prosecutors, left with few choices, have prosecuted for the distribution of child pornography for the sharing of images if people under the age of 18. If convicted, this could mean serving time in prison (5 years) and being registered as a sex offender for life.
In one case, a school administrator in Virginia was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography when in addressing a disciplinary problem in the school that involved a suggestive picture that was being sent around, he asked a student to send the picture to his phone and then put it on his computer. Technically this was a crime; it took more than a year, significant legal fees, and the near ruin of a person’s career.