Sextortion: A Discussion on the Social Harm Plaguing the Internet

Mona Sedky
April 14, 2017

The Cybersecurity Law Initiative and Professor Orin S. Kerr recently hosted Mona Sedky from the U.S. Justice Department's (DOJ) Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section for a discussion on "Sextortion: A New Crime, and How DOJ Investigates and Prosecutes It." Ms. Sedky is one of the leading experts and trailblazers in the war against sextortion.

Ms. Sedky begins the conversation by describing the crime of sextortion and the fact patterns she has observed, particularly in adult victim sextortion cases. She explains that sextortion falls under the rubric of cyberstalking, and it has three components: threats, demands, and sexual activity. Ms. Sedky says that these components are akin to remote sexual assault and commonly take place on online platforms such as Facebook or Skype. She goes on to share details about the handling of criminal cases, as well as providing insight to students on the demographic of the victims and defendants she has encountered.

Sextortion is an issue affecting all age groups, but for Ms. Sedky, she often handles cases where hackers coerce or blackmail young girls into performing sexual acts. Sextortion cases are known for being difficult to tackle because there are few laws that directly criminalize certain types of behaviors. Through this discussion, Ms. Sedky hopes to raise awareness about the "new" crime threating today's digital age.

"I am delighted that people are interested in a topic that is near and dear to my heart," Ms. Sedky said. 

Watch the entire discussion