The Australian Broadcasting Corporation identified three rape victims without their consent, Australia’s News.com.au reported.
The identification happened in ABC’s three-part documentary Silent No More, which features Tracey Spicer, who prompted viral #MeToo disclosures.
“A joint investigation conducted by news.com.au and BuzzFeed News has found that the already circulating documentary has included disclosures received by Spicer regarding rape, harassment and domestic violence, without the women’s consent,” News.com.au reported.
iMediaEthics wrote to ABC to ask how the error occurred, how long the documentary identifying the rape victims was posted, how many people viewed the documentary identifying the victims, and if any victims have threatened legal action.
The ABC sent iMediaEthics statements from the documentary producer, the ABC and Spicer which read:
SOUTHERN PICTURES STATEMENT:
“We are devastated by this error and apologise for any distress this has caused. An interim version of the program provided to the ABC blurred most but not all the names and details of people who shared their stories with Tracey. We wish to assure everyone that the final version of the program will not identify anyone without their explicit consent, which was always our intention. Our first priority is our duty of care to those impacted by sexual harassment and #MeToo, along with supporting the work that is being done to address the issue of sexual harassment.”
TRACEY SPICER STATEMENT
“As a participant in this documentary, I was assured survivors’ identities would be fully protected. I am utterly gutted about what has occurred. I apologise deeply and unreservedly to those whose names were visible in that initial version of the program. I’m relieved that the ABC has swiftly moved to take it down and that no one is identified in the broadcast version.”
“Due to human error, an early version of Silent No More was posted under embargo on our subscriber-only portal for accredited media. This early version had not yet had names and details of three women blurred in shots of a computer screen. Significant steps were taken to de-identify names and details in the broadcast version and it has always been our intention that these names and details be blurred before broadcast. The ABC sincerely apologises for any harm or upset this has caused them or their families. We removed the program from our media portal as soon as we became aware of the error. The welfare of those who have suffered sexual abuse or harassment is of utmost importance to the ABC and we wish to assure them that Silent No More will treat these issues with respect and care while shining a light on the need for positive change in this area.”
According to News.com.au, the documentary included the identification of three rape victims, one who is now deceased, in a “circulated preview documentary.” News.com.au said:
“The victims – whose names and faces also appear – had no knowledge of the documentary’s existence, or that Spicer had shared their confidential disclosures with a film crew, until contacted.”
News.com.au noted that in 2007, the ABC had to pay a rape victim $234,000 for identifying her as a rape victim on air.