The U.S. Navy announced on Wednesday new regulations that make it a punishable offense for sailors and Marines to post nude pictures of service members online without consent.
The new regulations are a direct result of the recent scandal involving male Marines and sailors who posted nude photos of female Marines online. Engaging in such activity now carries the potential for criminal charges.
On Tuesday, Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley announced the new regulations in a Navy-wide written message. The new rules went into effect immediately and will be formally included in the next printing of the Navy's regulations.
"The wrongful distribution or broadcasting of an intimate image is prohibited," under the new regulations.
The online posting of intimate photos is considered "wrongful" if done without the consent of the person in the image, and if the intent of the posting is to "to realize personal gain;" "to humiliate, harm, harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce the depicted person;" or if it is done "with reckless disregard as to whether the depicted person would be humiliated, harmed, intimidated, threatened, or coerced."
"The addition of Article 1168 'Nonconsensual distribution or broadcasting of an image' to Navy Regulations serves to underscore leadership's commitment to eliminating degrading behaviors that erode trust and weaken the Navy and Marine Corps Team," the Navy's chief spokesperson, Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler, said in a statement.
Cutler said the new regulations provide commanders "another tool to maintain good order and discipline by holding Sailors and Marines accountable for inappropriate conduct in the nonconsensual sharing of intimate imagery."
She continued, "This article adds the potential charge of Article 92 'Failure to obey order or regulation' to the possible charges that can be used against an alleged perpetrator. Each case of alleged misconduct will be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances."
The military online nude photo sharing scandal came to light in March when it was disclosed that a link to possibly hundreds of explicit photos of female Marines had been posted on the Marines United Facebook page by current or former male Marines. While that page had 30,000 members, a subsequent review determined that only a small number of individuals were actively involved in sharing nude photos of female Marines.
The scandal led the military services to scour other websites for illicit photos of female service members that may have been posted without their consent.
General Robert Neller, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, told a congressional committee that the sharing of explicit photos online is an example of broader cultural problems in the Marine Corps that needed to be addressed.
Neller also made an impassioned plea for potential victims of the photo sharing to step forward to help investigators
The Marine Corps soon updated their social media policy to make cyberbullying a punishable offense.
Earlier this month Navy investigators announced that 27 individuals were involved in criminal activity in the posting non-consensual nude photos of female Marines online. Of those, 15 are active duty U.S. military personnel -- 14 in the Marine Corps and one in the Navy.