What can I do if my ex-boyfriend makes pictures of me public, or if I hear he's planning to?

Question Details: I broke up with my boyfriend a while ago and he has some pictures of me. I don't want him to make them public. What can I do if he does, or if I hear that he's planning to?

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Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

If your ex-boyfriend makes pictures of you public, you can request that the photos be removed from wherever has has posted them (for example, the internet site where he has posted them). If you hear he is planning to, you could either ask him not to, or have someone else, such as a lawyer or the Police, ask him not to, and tell him he may breach criminal and civil laws if he does.

If your ex-boyfriend does make pictures of you public without your permission, you can ask that the pictures be removed from wherever they have been posted because they contain your personal private information. Many social media websites, including Facebook, offer a simple process for requesting that private photos be removed. For Facebook's process, click here: www.facebook.com.

If you hear that your ex-boyfriend is planning to make pictures of you public, you can ask him not to (and to delete or return the pictures of you) or have someone else ask him on your behalf. The Police or a lawyer can do this for you if you want. Your ex-boyfriend should be told that publicising private pictures of you may breach criminal and civil laws. For example, if the pictures of you were taken without your knowledge or consent, your ex-boyfriend may have committed a criminal offence, and you can ask the Police to investigate. You can also bring private civil court proceedings against your ex-boyfriend (either under the Privacy Act or based on tort) to seek compensation for any harm that your ex-boyfriend causes you by making the pictures public. Most of your court remedies would need to be pursued through the District Court, rather than the Disputes Tribunal.

This area of law is currently being reviewed by Parliament and your options may change in the future. If you would like further advice, please feel free to contact your local Community Law Centre. To find your local Centre, click here: www.communitylaw.org.nz.

Answered 2 Dec 2012. The IMPORTANT NOTICE below is part of this answer.

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