Legislation criminalizing revenge porn close to becoming law

 

JEFFERSON CITY — A bill that criminalizes sharing private sexual images without consent is one vote away from going to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk.

The Senate unanimously passed a House revenge porn bill with a vote of 33-0.

Sen. Gary Romine, R- Farmington, who brought the bill to the Senate, said the legislation has been in the works for years and is not a reaction to any high-profile cases.

Romine did not specifically mention the governor, but he and several lawmakers alluded to the governor’s impending court case. Greitens has been charged with a felony for allegedly taking and transmitting a photo of a seminude woman without her permission before he was elected. He denies the allegation. A House committee is also investigating the report.

“This has not been a knee-jerk reaction,” Romine said. Proposals to enact similar legislation have “been around quite some time.”

The Senate’s version makes changes to the House version of the bill. Under the Senate substitute, an internet service provider has five days to take an image down after being notified of its existence. If the provider fails to take down the image, it could be found liable.

The Senate version also adds language about the intent of sharing such images. Organizations such as news networks would not be held accountablebecause their intent is for an informational purpose and not to humiliate or threaten an individual.

In addition to the Senate substitute, the Senate also unanimously voted to add an emergency clause. This would make the bill a law as soon as the governor signed it as opposed to August, which is when all other legislation is put into effect.

Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, who drafted the emergency clause, said people in Missouri have been waiting for this legislation for some time, and recent events have strengthened its importance.

“Nothing like a very public problem that makes people move and sort of lights a fire under people to move things in the right direction statutorily,” Schupp said.

If the House passes the Senate substitute with no changes, the legislation then goes to the governor.

When asked if she thought Greitens would sign the bill, Schupp said she couldn’t answer.

“I have no idea what the governer will do,” she said. “He and I have not been chatting about those kind of things.”

Supervising editor is Mark Horvit, horvitm@missouri.edu.

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