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Utah Revenge Porn Ban Signed into Law

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Utah Revenge Porn Ban Signed into Law
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Utah has just become the latest state to pass laws specifically banning “distributing intimate images of a person without that person’s permission.” These bills are generally drafted to tackle so-called revenge porn.

Governor Gary R. Herbert signed the bill, HB71, into law on Monday. The bill passed both state legislatures last month. It modifies existing Utah criminal code to make the distribution of intimate images a class A misdemeanor on the first offense, with subsequent charges deemed third-degree felonies.

Here’s the meat of the new law:

An actor commits the offense of distribution of intimate images if the actor, with the intent to cause emotional distress or harm, knowingly or intentionally distributes to any third party any intimate image of an individual who is 18 years of age or older, if: the actor knows that the depicted individual has not given consent to the actor to distribute the intimate image; the intimate image was created by or provided to the actor under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy; and actual emotional distress or harm is caused to the person as a result of the distribution under this section

The new law also has built-in exemptions for law enforcement and others acting lawfully in the reporting of a criminal offense. HB71 also says that the new regulations do not apply to ISPs and other “information services” as long as their only part in the distribution of the unlawful images comes from “transmitting or routing data from one person to another” or “providing a connection between one person and another person.”

Of course, this is an important distinction. Utah’s new law clearly wants to go after the actual distributors of the images (the jilted ex-lovers, if you will) instead of ISPs and websites.

As we’ve discussed before, criminalizing revenge porn doesn’t just affect the “jilted ex-lovers” who post it online, but also revenge porn websites and web hosting companies. The latter tend to be able to stand behind the Communication Decency Act, which protects websites from being liable for user-submitted content. Utah’s new law at least attempts to make a distinction.

Utah becomes just one of a few states to enact laws banning revenge porn. California recently passed their own laws against the practice and New York is currently debating similar statutes.

And though anti-revenge porn laws have so far been a state undertaking, it looks like the federal government is about to get involved.

Image via Thinkstock

Utah Revenge Porn Ban Signed into Law
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