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“Revenge porn”, “doxing”, “kompromat” … Understanding these expressions used in the Griveaux case

These terms have been widely used in recent days, on social networks and in the media, to describe the dissemination of private sex videos attributed to Benjamin Griveaux. What do they mean and what do they refer to? Decryption.

After the broadcast of private videos of a sexual nature attributed to him, Benjamin Griveaux, the candidate of The Republic on the march to the town hall of Paris, announced, Friday, February 14, that he was withdrawing from the campaign for municipal elections. Since then, different terms – not referring entirely to the same procedures – have been used to describe or denounce the way in which the former candidate was targeted.

“Revenge porn” or “pornodivulgation”, an offense penalized by the penal code

The “pornodulgulgation”, appeared with the rise of social networks, consists in putting on line photos, videos, or other types of content of a sexual nature without the authorization of the person (s) concerned.

This type of process has been generalized in conflict situations between people who have had intimate relationships in the past, hence the concept of “revenge” in the English expression “revenge porn”. This practice is sometimes preceded or accompanied by blackmail or threats. Since 2016, and the adoption of the law “for a digital Republic”, this practice is punishable by two years in prison and a fine of 60,000 euros (article 226-2-1 of the Criminal Code). Persons who relay and “bring to the attention of the public or third parties” these images or videos are liable to the same penalties.

A total of 2,839 complaints were filed in 2019 for “invasions of privacy by dissemination of sexual images” (compared to 2,564 in 2018).

“Doxing” or “doxxing”, a broader practice, potentially liable to prosecution

“Doxing” consists in seeking, collecting and then disseminating – in particular via social networks – information on the identity and private life of a person (or an organization), without their authorization, with the aim of harming them . It can be their identity, address, phone number, passwords, or other personal information.

The motivations of what can be akin to a form of online harassment can be varied: militant will to target people or companies whose practices we intend to denounce, will to revenge, humiliation, blackmail …

Depending on the methods used and their consequences, doxing can give rise to complaints and sanctions for “invasion of privacy”, or “collection, processing and disclosure of personal data without the consent of the person concerned”.

“Kompromat”, a Russian technique of political destabilization, originally used during the Cold War

“Kompromat” means putting together files and disseminating compromising or dependent data against a person – whether real or invented – so as to destabilize, put them under pressure, discredit them or force them to collaborate. This may include, among other things, the broadcasting of videos of a sexual nature, shot with a hidden camera, used to tarnish the reputation of political opponents.

This technique, notably used by the KGB services during the Cold War, has also been used in Vladimir Putin's Russia in recent years, as an investigation by a Special Envoy in November 2017 showed.

In the case of the dissemination of videos of a sexual nature attributed to Benjamin Griveaux, responsibility for the posting of the videos was claimed by the disputing Russian artist Piotr Pavlenski.

On Franceinfo, Michel Eltchaninoff, editor in chief at Philosophy Magazine, who met Piotr Pavlenski in 2016 and 2017, believes that while“few years ago, [l’artiste] denounced the practices of the FSB, the Russian secret services, today it uses their practices, that is to say the manufacture of a Kompromat, a compromising material “. The journalist adds that he “the impression that Pyotr Pavlensky has completely changed and that he is doing today, against a politician, to bring him down, which he reproached Putin's Russia a few years ago”.

The different terms used in the Griveaux case therefore refer to different interpretations of what may have been the motivations of the actor (s) in the case (intimate revenge, political trap, set-up …) Only the The outcome of the survey will determine which are the most appropriate terms in this case.

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