Is ‘no’ still ‘no’ in an online world? Discussing non-consensual distribution of intimate images and deepfakes


  • Liesbet Stevens


  • Cindy Southworth
  • David Wright
  • Catherine Van de Heyning
  • Philipp Amann

Organisation: Antwerp University

Room: Grand Hall Online

Timing: 11:45 - 13:00 on 29 January 2021

As all aspects of human behaviour translate to the online world, so does sexual activity and interaction. With the normalisation of sexting as a regular feature for sexual development and interaction, also the abuse of such images has become a persistent digital phenomenon. Intimate images are made and distributed without consent, resulting in trauma and further abuse online as well as offline for the victims. In addition to the loss of their sexual privacy and integrity, victims are further confronted by criminal exploit of these images through sextortion and online harassment. They suffer offline consequences such as loss of professional opportunities or relationships, and are hunted by phenomena of doxing to expose their identities. The protection of online sexual integrity is just to become even trickier with the facilitation of AI to create deepnudes without any expert knowledge required. This seminar will focus on the online transgression of sexual integrity and how to tackle this phenomenon, including the role of social media and law enforcement to prevent or tackle the distribution of these intimate images. In particular following questions will guide the seminar:

• What do we define as online transgression of sexual integrity and where does the law draw the line of illegitimate behaviour?
• What role can and should social media play in preventing and removing NCII and deepnude?
• Why is online transgression of sexual integrity only so scarcely prosecuted?
• What role for civil society to tackle this phenomenon?


Liesbet Stevens

Vice president Institute for the equality of women and men (BE/govermental)


Cindy Southworth

Facebook (US)

Ms. Cindy Southworth, Head of Women’s Safety at Facebook, focuses on empowering women to connect online and combating issues such as non-consensual sharing of intimate images that disproportionately impact women. Prior to joining Facebook, she was the Executive Vice President at the U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence ( and founder of the Safety Net Technology Project ( She is a founding board member of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters ( Ms. Southworth has a master’s degree in Social Work and has worked to end violence against women for over 25 years at GBV advocacy organizations.

David Wright

UK Safer Internet Centre (UK)

Catherine Van de Heyning

University of Antwerp (BE)

Catherine Van de Heyning, prof dr., combines her academic tenure as professor in European fundamental rights at the University of Antwerp with a position as public prosecutor. Her research focuses on the impact of digitalisation on fundamental rights, in particular in criminal law and justice. She is a member of the advisory committee of the UN Human Rights Council. She is a member of academic journals in criminal and human rights law, and author of several articles on the topic. She is a part of the BELSPO funded @ntidote project on online hate speech and non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

Philipp Amann

Europol (EU)