March 1, 2017

FIRST THOUGHT:Fighting for Women’s Cyber Civil Rights

We’re going to talk about a difficult subject today: women’s privacy in the age of the internet. Time and again, leaked celebrity photos and videos make national news. But this is not something that only happens to the rich and famous.

Right now, girls and women in your neighborhood, town and state are subject to this kind of harassing invasion of privacy. When one woman experiences this kind of trauma, it’s up to us all to fight back. We dedicate today’s On The Dot to the conscientious people who are standing up against this gut-wrenching reality and working to make cyber space a safe place for all women.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: More Than 100,000 Times

Let’s start by mentioning Molly Hackett and Jane Quinn. They created a mobile app called TraffickCam to fight against another terrible reality facing girls and women: sex trafficking. Traffickers often take photos advertising victims in hotel rooms and post them online. It’s difficult for law enforcement to identify exactly where such pictures are taken, but, according to Molly and Jane, eliciting the public for info actually helps.

Their TraffickCam app, which has been downloaded more than 100,000 times, allows hotel guests to upload photos of specific hotel rooms, which are then synced in a database that enables law-enforcement officers to identify the exact hotels in which this kind of terrible activity occurs. Thanks, ladies, for empowering people and organizations with the resources, knowledge and networks to help fight sex trafficking.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Carrie Goldberg, Founder of C. A. Goldberg PLLC

Carrie Goldberg is another woman doing the difficult work of fighting to make the online world secure for all women. It all started when Carrie’s ex threatened to send intimate photos of her to her colleagues. She immediately went to the police. The cops said such an act wasn’t criminal, so the only thing Carrie could do was file a restraining order. Though her ex was thwarted, Carrie realized there was a serious lack of resources for women dealt such dreadful circumstances. So, aiming to be the kind of lawyer she’d needed then, Carrie, a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, founded her own law firm, and now specializes in internet privacy and sexual-consent litigation.

During the course of the past 10 years, 33 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to protect victims of this kind of revenge, and several more states have such legislation pending. Criminals who disseminate so-called “revenge porn” often rely on victims’ responses of shame to keep them out of jail. But thanks to folks like Carrie, that’s no longer the norm.

One reason why victims feel able to confide in Carrie is her non-judgmental attitude. She’s been there, and she’s devoted to fighting for women. She knows it can be extremely difficult for victims to speak up and fight. That’s why she referred to one of her young female clients as a “warrior goddess” for openly fighting back.

When women are targets of sexual abuse, harassment and hacking, many are racked with remorse, feeling that they shouldn’t have worn that low-cut dress or sent that suggestive picture to their beau. But Carrie makes sure to call BS on that mentality.

For the past three years, since starting her law firm, Carrie has given a voice to girls and women who feel helpless, ashamed and alone. To date, nearly 1,000 revenge-porn videos and images have been removed from the internet thanks to the tireless efforts of Carrie and her team. And in the firm’s first year alone, Carrie and her associates spent 800 unpaid hours on legal work for victims of revenge porn. If you feel inspired to support Carrie’s quest to bring about justice for these victims, consider donating to her pro-bono legal fund.


When it feels like no one’s on your side, remember there’s a sisterhood supporting you. Carrie Goldberg’s website features a short blurb about sexual privacy that couldn’t be more true. It says:

“You are not crazy. The situation is. … Take back the control!”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.