New Developments – State Revenge Porn Laws

As of February, 2014, only New Jersey and California had revenge porn laws on the books, but that is about to change in a big way from the looks of it. A recent high-profile case in New York highlighted how behind the times current legislation is.

revenge-pornRevenge porn, or the act of posting sexually compromising pictures or video of an ex online with the intention of harassing, humiliating or for money, is widely viewed as reprehensible but not actually illegal in many jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions, harassment or other statutes may apply, but the treatment under the law is by no means universal or reflective of new electronic modes of communication.

When laws are contemplated or introduced, complications and objections immediately arise. In the event that:

  • The victim willingly gave the photos to the perpetrator
  • The perp took the pictures, but the victim was willing
  • The pictures were obtained surreptitiously
  • The victim is a minor
  • First Amendment laws are high on the list of priorities of lawmakers

difficulties arise. Current laws adequately deal with some of the above. Weighing the import of each consideration in crafting an appropriate revenge porn law, and resulting punishment in the event that the perpetrator is found guilty, is proving difficult. For example, the California revenge porn law passed last week does not apply to selfies, only those pictures taken by the perpetrator.

Despite the roadblocks to a “perfect” revenge porn law, news reports indicate that at least fourteen states have a law being crafted or in some stage of moving through its respective state legislative process. Here’s a summary:

Arizona – Bill passed by House; headed to the Senate for Review.

Florida – Bill passed the House; in Senate committee for review.

Georgia – Bill passed by Senate with some changes, in the House for review.

Idaho – Bill is through committee and has been introduced in the house.

Illinois – Bill passed unanimously by the Senate. Opponents including the ACLU are vigorously opposed based on First Amendment concerns.

Maryland – Bill has been passed by the House, moved on to Senate.

Utah – Bill has been introduced in the House.

Virginia – Bill has been passed by House and Senate; is on Governor’s desk for signature.

Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin all have something in the works, or have temporarily shelved something that was being worked on.

Revenge porn is a serious issue, and despite the stops and starts, this is what progress looks like. At ThirdParent, in issues such as these, we put victims’ rights ahead of First Amendment concerns, in the even that the intent of the perpetrator is to harass or humiliate.

Stay tuned for more developments.

 

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