State Senate committee seeks new law on 'revenge porn'

June 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
"Revenge porn" is when a scorned ex-lover posts private sexual photos as a form of payback. It's a growing trend. Action is being taken by California lawmakers.

Relationships can go bad; break-ups can be even worse. Sometimes a jilted lover will take the intimate pictures or videos the couple had of each other and post them online to get back at the ex. It's called "revenge porn."

Hollie Troups of Texas had semi-nude photos uploaded onto Texxxan.com by a former boyfriend and was embarrassed. A friend found them.

"It's pictures, explicit photos that people posted, and she said 'You're on there,'" said Troups.

The Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a bill that would criminalize revenge porn, making it a misdemeanor for those who electronically distribute photos of a sexual nature without the other person's consent with the intent of harassing or humiliating. Offenders can be jailed up to one year and fined up to $1,000.

"The law does not keep up with the technology," said state Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres).

Cannella is leading the effort because the threat of a civil lawsuit doesn't seem to be enough of a deterrent.

"They are concerned about going to jail," said Cannella. "So this hopefully raises the bar enough where people think twice about engaging in this behavior because it's ruined people's lives."

But First Amendment groups have some concerns.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation agrees the revenge porn problem needs to be addressed, just not the way Senator Cannella is going about it.

"It also criminalizes the victimless instances. And that's a problem with the First Amendment. Whenever you try and criminalize speech, you have to do so in the most narrowly tailored way possible," said Nate Cardozo, an Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney.

Victims just don't want their private pictures to go public.

"I just can't imagine why someone would do this to anyone," said Troups.

The Cannella measure seems to be gaining bipartisan momentum. While other states have similar measures, only New Jersey has a law in place making revenge porn illegal.


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