Navy Updates Regulations on Nonconsensual Sharing of Imagery

From the Office of the Chief of Information

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean J. Stackley released All Navy Message (ALNAV) 021/17, April 18, which updated Navy regulations, making it unlawful to share an intimate image of someone without his or her permission for personal gain or to humiliate, harm, harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce the depicted person or with reckless disregard of harm to the victim.

The new regulation "serves to underscore leadership's commitment to eliminating degrading behaviors that erode trust and weaken the Navy and Marine Corps team," Chief of Information Rear Adm. Dawn Cutler said in a statement. "It provides 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."

This regulation complements Article 120c, "Other Sexual Misconduct" of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which prohibits the indecent viewing, visual recording or broadcasting of another person.

Anyone found to have violated the new regulation could be subject to court-martial, or adverse administrative actions, such as nonjudicial punishment or administrative separation.

The revised policy stems from a March 2017 Marine Corps investigation into the Facebook group "Marines United," that involved the solicitation and sharing of nude and explicit photos of female service members and veterans by possible members of the Marine Corps. The investigation has expanded to include all of the military services, and has uncovered a culture of toxic behavior among some service members, veterans and civilians with respect to their conduct online.

In a March 14 blog post, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said "In teams, there are no bystanders. We are all in, every one of us. We have high expectations of each other, hold each other accountable, and we treat each other with respect. We build our teammates up to make them stronger. We definitely don't allow anybody to disrespect another teammate - we close ranks and protect."

In response, the Department of Navy has conducted focus groups across the department, is in the process of conducting a comprehensive review of existing policies and training, and continues to actively promote a culture that does not condone toxic behaviors that lead to misconduct in person and online.

The Navy Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) leads a joint task force investigating the circumstances under which explicit photos were circulated. Anyone with knowledge of the wrongful sharing of intimate images should submit a tip to NCIS via text to 274637, online at, or via smart phone app.