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Revenge Porn Targeted by California Lawmakers

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Revenge Porn Targeted by California Lawmakers
[ Technology]

A new California bill looks to curtail the spread of so-called “revenge porn” by finally codifying the crime into law and setting specific penalties for the unauthorized distribution of sexual materials.

SB 255 has passed the California Senate’s Public Safety Committee, which means it will be up for a vote within the next couple of weeks.

Here’s the text from the bill:

This bill would make it a misdemeanor for any person who, with the intent to cause substantial emotional distress or humiliation to another person, by means of an electronic communication device, and without consent of the other person, electronically distributes, publishes, emails, hyperlinks, or makes available for downloading nude images of the other person along with personal identifying information of the other person.

Those found guilty of violating the law would be subject to up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. The bill broadly describes “electronic communication device” as cellphones, computers, any internet-connected device, and actual web pages as well.

“There has been a recent increase in what is commonly called ‘revenge porn,’ and this bill seeks to discourage the act,” says the bill’s sponsor Anthony Cannella.

“People who post or text pictures that are meant to be private as a way to seek revenge are reprehensible. Right now, there is no tool for law enforcement to protect the victims. Too many have had their lives upended because of an action of another that they trusted. This is a common sense bill that clamps down on those who exploit intimacy and trust for revenge or personal gain.”

Finding a place on the moral outskirts of pornography, so-called revenge porn sites host images and videos of so-called “exes.” The point of such sites is that men are exacting revenge on ex-girlfriends by posting their private sexual communications online for the world to see.

We’ve seen revenge porn sites targeted in the past, sued for invasion of privacy, public disclosure of private facts, and such. Most of the time, these sites are able to stand behind the famous section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from being liable for user-submitted content. This new bill would give officials more leeway to target individual offenders.

By the language of this bill, however, it wouldn’t just be revenge porn sites that would fall under its purview. Anyone that sends their buddies a text of their ex-girlfriend naked, or uploads such images to an internet forum like reddit could be targeted as violators.

“It is unfortunate that we have to create legislation to protect individuals from the misuse of technology,” said Christine Ward, executive director of Crime Victims Action Alliance. “I applaud Senator Cannella for his efforts to prevent future victimization in California.”

Revenge Porn Targeted by California Lawmakers
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