Creepshots : Can the law keep up with new and emerging websites ?

It's safe to say that if you caught a stranger taking a picture of you or a part of your body you would be unhappy to say the least. You'd not be wrong to assume it was illegal or at best you would be able to have rights over the usage of any images. Well, it’s sadly not a clear issue.

Therefore, I was shocked to read this week of the increasing popularity of websites that go under the title of 'creepshots'. They operate like social networking media sites where members are encouraged to post photos that have been taken possibly without consent or knowledge of the person in them, even worse, the pictures are nearly always of parts of the body such as legs, breasts or bottoms.

According to the news this week complaints of men taking pictures of women and young girls in public have increased dramatically and it's very difficult to control or even remove the pictures from the internet once uploaded.

On researching such websites this week, firstly I had no problem finding such sites by simply searching under creepshots. Once into the hompage, I was initially faced with a set of rules and regulations that professed that uploaded pictures will be removed if taken 'up skirts' and also photos of 'obvious minors'...but when clicking on a hyperlink horribly named 'jailbait' (there was another dubious link named 'teen' ) I saw a stream of images of some young girls who I would class as under or around the age of 16 in very suggestive photos, unfortunately there were more of a concerning nature further through the slide show. Scary stuff indeed. It also appeared that the particular site I visited, even though a small registration process was necessary to upload images, anyone can view photos, which, in my opinion can fuel a user's preferences. I have read that creepshot websites are not closely monitored and have few rules, whatever the current situation it's obvious that loopholes in the law are being exploited.

Interestingly, when reading complaints about these sites, creepshot users replied with 'we're no different from the paparazzi'. So are we now living with the same threat as celebrities in the way that they fear photographers' lenses whenever they leave the house? And as we know, Heat and magazines alike have a huge following and are lucrative...the more telling or grotesque the photo the more it is likely to be on the front cover. Did we feel sorry for Hugh Grant when he was very outspoken in his views regarding press intrusion? Can we now be a little more sympathetic to celebrities calls for increased privacy laws in this country when now we are in danger of being 'papped' ourselves by a group of self titled Paparazzi?

So, where does this leave young people with these emerging threats to privacy and innocence? It all lies in educating them to be aware of the dangers and steer clear of websites that can encourage users to get hooked into viewing images which are inappropriate and potentially damaging. Does it just boil down to teaching girls and boys about the continual and ever changing dangers of social networking and incorporate into this the law, and what is legal and illegal. It isn't an easy job, and as identified above, the law seems to be one step behind the internet. This week the PSHE association have announced parliamentary inquiry into schools PSHE provision, and whether it is 'fit for purpose' in an ever changing world. Hopefully the findings will be that it should be compulsory in schools to teach about e-safety for the continual well being of our young people.

We spoke to our Digital Leaders group who discussed this trend in class and with their parents - here are their comments:

Eight Digital Leader students looked at this matter and some involved their parents to give views also. All of the students and parents commented that they thought that there was no one, particularly the Police, who would really deal with any creepy photography incident that seriously. The thought was that they may only be bothered about matters like this when a real problem has occurred and someone is hurt or wronged after the fact. When I asked if this was through experience it turned out not to be so; we concluded that this was just a perception through lack of any high profile outcomes in the media. They thought that as the media were often both blatant and sometimes covertly trying to obtain images to get a sensational story, that they were very blasé about this issue and would probably not highlight this type of story as fingers might point at their own methods.

Students commented that if someone were taking pictures near a kid’s playground then they would find it more worrisome if it was a man. I asked what their reaction would be in this instance and they said that there would be nothing they could do, they knew it would be dangerous to approach that person and that they would have to tell a responsible adult, but the pictures are by this time already taken and the photographer would be gone. Parents mostly said that they would politely challenge a person taking photographs and would be suspicious of the person’s intent. They commented that even if they were upset what could practically be done.

Parents and children asked about legislation, but could not find anything that would necessarily work when we discussed it. No one could see where there is any defining line, never-mind when that line is crossed between what is publicly decent and what is creepy or perverse …and that almost any incident could reasonably easily and very plausibly be explained away as an usual circumstance. The police would only have recourse to stake out the location and hope for a repeat incident by the same individual and then only act if the person was on the sex offenders register. If there was a reasonable excuse then what can they do? The only definite line we could see was if someone set out to covertly ‘spy’ on someone else. Placing hidden cameras and maybe even operating them remotely was a definite area that should trigger an investigation and where a line of tolerability had definitely been crossed.

While the group were unable to come to a conclusion on this matter, it does demonstrate the lack of clear legalities around this issue and the feeling that nothing can be done when it happens.

If you would like to add your comments on this topic, please do so below.

Written by Vicki Dan on May 27, 2014 14:27

Digital Leader start-up at St Wilfrid’s in Featherstone

St Wilfrid Digital LeadersThe Digital Leader scheme came out of an idea from a network manager’s course that I attended. I saw it as having potential to both assist me in my role and at the same time provide a fantastic opportunity for the interested students who volunteered to take part.

So, during our annual 'Activities Fair' I set up my stall with sign up slips to express interest, a few nice posters and some hand-outs and decided to test the interest of Year 8. My plan was to start small with just eight or ten students, who could do the job until Year 10. Next year I could take on another group from Year 8 …and the following year another. After Year 10 students would finish to concentrate on Year 11 exams. So that the total number of Digital Leaders in school would grow to a total of roughly 24 to 30 students from Years 8, 9 and 10.

The outcome of the exhibition was that I might have ‘oversold’ it with almost half of the 280 strong year group signed up. So then I had the dilemma of whittling these down to just a few.

Using our VLE, I decided to get those signed up to reply to me via internal email with a sentence or two on each of three questions:

  • What they thought a ‘Digital leader’ might do

  • What interests them about computer and internet technology the most

  • What they thought that they might get out of being a Digital Leader
  • Most didn’t reply, one or two were silly, some had obviously not ‘got it’ and I soon quite easily came to ten students.

    Our first Digital Leaders ‘mission’ is now out of the way, which was specifically to engage parents in Safer Internet day a couple of weeks ago. We invited in parents for two possible sessions, one in the afternoon just before school finished to attract parents who might ordinarily pick their kids up from school and a second session later in the evening. Parents booked into each session online. The team prepared Parent Packs (of which 80% was material taken from the resources available to us by subscribing to E-safety Support. The value of this content was very easily offset in just one go if I had to account for the time that it would have taken me to produce these resources myself). They also rehearsed little bits of interjection into the presentation where they would offer information and personal experiences to support facts outlined in the PowerPoint.

    These talks were a great success and the feedback we collected was extremely positive. We concentrated on giving parents the most practical advice, information, and resources that we could so that they could actually all go away and do something straight away to help their own particular e-safety scenario at home.

    We are currently on a little one week special project ‘break’ to design a pin badge for ourselves as Digital Leaders, which they will be allowed to wear on their blazers. The ‘team’ have had a couple of short lessons in how the school’s wired and wireless networks are put together involving tours of server rooms and comms cabinets on the site.

    This week we are going to split into two groups, one starting to do some basic Python coding and another in looking at supporting some of the technology that we already use in classroom environments.

    Over the coming weeks and months, we will be telling you more about the Digital Leaders projects and how the students are taking a lead role in e-safety awareness around the school.

    To find out about the inspiration for the project, click here.

    Written by Digital Leaders on March 27, 2014 10:38

    Digital Leaders at St Wilfrid's School - How It Began

    St Wilfrid Digital LeadersEarly last year, at a Network Managers Course, I came across the term ‘Digital Leader’. It was used by the speaker Robert Bashforth in reference to projects started by Chris Mayoh of the YHGfL. He used the term to describe one way of raising the profile of e-safeguarding issues in schools by developing a team of students to get involved and work in doing the job with you.

    Obviously, they would have to have an interest in the issues in the first place, but then have to go on to gain the knowledge required before they are actually able to support their peers and also the staff in all matters of e-safety. They also talked about these students as helping to ‘push’ and also support digital initiatives to their peers and teachers as specialist leaders in using technology in the classroom environment.

    Well it all sounded like a good idea, but then I could not really see what the students themselves might get out of the process and where their motivation would come from to volunteer to do this. Therefore, I asked Robert and others over the next few days and did a bit of ‘Googling’ and saw that actually the ‘Digital Leader’ projects that were already happening in little pockets here and there around the country, seemed quite a viable proposition. I researched some other areas where having a ‘Digital Leader’ type of student might prove of benefit around school in issues that were generally related to computing and computer use. I also started to realise where the students involved might benefit from being involved and that it might actually appeal to and interest a few of our kids very much indeed.

    We just happened to have bought around 100 iPads in school and a couple of staff went on courses to learn how to get the most of our ‘new’ technologies. Staff needed to learn about getting away from the traditional computer suite or laptop trolley scenarios in school, particularly when not specifically teaching IT. However, any expertise did not seem to be being spread around school effectively and we seemed to be stalling a little.

    Education news came out last year saying that, specifically in IT courses, Mr Gove, (the Education Minister), would rather have IT courses that concentrate more on teaching ‘Computing’, (programming and more ‘under the bonnet’ technology), as an alternative to the more traditional Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It is a fact that as a nation, we are already falling short of people coming out of education who can fill these types of technical computing jobs.

    Well it so happened that the Head of the IT Department had just bought a few Raspberry Pi computers with the aim of maybe setting up a little school club. He wanted to attempt at getting some basic coding into the curriculum, so here was an opportunity maybe to start teaching students to get interested in computer coding and some control projects too.

    And so, at our annual Activities Fair, the Digital Leaders project began.

    At E-safety Support, we will be following the Digital Leaders project to share their ideas and solutions they find to e-safety issues in their school. If you would like to share your school's experiences, please email

    Written by Digital Leaders on March 27, 2014 10:37

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