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Houlton police chief Butch Asselin wants Maine to make revenge porn criminal

It’s a story that’s been told way too often in other parts of the world. Recently, it hit home in Houlton.

The story was given a face nationwide by Holly Jacobs, a doctoral student in Florida. She had sent nude pictures of herself to a boyfriend in a long-distance relationship that later went sour. Holly says her ex posted the photos on one of a growing number of websites featuring “revenge porn,” images posted by ex-lovers or friends seeking to hold the pictured person up to ridicule.

She had no idea those photos were online until an anonymous email arrived. It said, “Someone is trying to make life very difficult for you.” The email included a link, and when she clicked it, Holly was redirected to a site showing those pictures.

After contacting the website hosts and demanding that the photos be taken down, the pictures went viral. Holly says they appeared on numerous sites, often with her email and workplace addresses included. Someone posed as Holly and posted a fake profile on a porn site. The hate mail and stalking became intense.

Holly has sued her ex, who says he did not post the pictures. He says his computer was hacked, the hacker was responsible for the unauthorized posting, and therefore he’s also a victim.

You might wonder, can’t laws against harassment be used against those who post revenge porn? If it’s a single posting, rather than repeated acts, the laws in most states say no. If you send the photo willingly — even with the expectation that it won’t be shared — that can be an “out” for the one who posts it. The federal Communications Decency Act shields website operators from legal action based on what others post.

Some sleazy operators demand money to have photos removed. Such ransom schemes only add injury to insult, with no guarantee the photos won’t appear on other websites.

Only New Jersey and California have laws on the books making revenge porn a crime. Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin have also considered criminalizing revenge porn, although none of those states has yet passed such a law.

In Houlton, police chief Butch Asselin is hoping Maine makes such acts criminal.

“I think it’s a form of abuse,” Asselin told me last week. He thinks criminal rather than civil penalties will better deter revenge porn. “It’s a form of harassment. I think people are more likely to contact the police than contact an attorney to have this stopped.”

Even though his review of one offending site showed photos of women “from all over” Maine, Asselin says he has not yet found much support among legislators for changes during the upcoming session.

Professor Danielle Citron, who studies privacy and cyber hate crimes, has written extensively on revenge porn. She’s calling for laws in all states to crack down on the practice while protecting the right to free speech. Citron wrote recently in Slate, “Certain categories of speech can be regulated because they bring about serious harm and make only the slightest contribution to free speech. Revenge porn comes under that exact heading.”

The takeaway for consumers is not to put potentially embarrassing pictures on the Internet; even if removed from the original posting, there’s no guarantee they won’t reappear somewhere else.

Getting embarrassing photos taken down from websites can be challenging. Help can be found at two websites we’re aware of, womenagainstrevengeporn.com and endrevengeporn.org.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit http://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

Houlton police chief wants Maine to make revenge porn criminal – Bangor Daily News
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Millennials deal with consequences of revenge porn

As Millennials become increasingly tech-reliant in all facets of life — including relationships — some are facing unfortunate consequences.

Three out of four college students will be in a long-distance relationship at some point before graduation, according to a study in the Journal of Communication. Sending nude photos to a partner may be one way to maintain the passion.

In fact, a 2011 University of Rhode Island study found that 56% percent of students had received “sexually suggestive images.”

But what happens when a relationship dissolves and a heartbroken ex has a library of nude photos of their former partner?

For some, the answer is “revenge porn,” or posting someone’s sexually explicit image online without their consent.

The action is legal in 48 states — excluding New Jersey and recently, California — and protected under one’s First Amendment rights.

Holly Jacobs, a revenge-porn victim and founder of EndRevengePorn.com, says that this issue uniquely affects Gen Y.

“I would venture to say that most victims that contact me are of the college age,” says Jacobs, who found herself on a revenge porn site as a grad student at Florida International University in 2009. “It’s the Millennials who have grown up with technology and have integrated it into their lives.”

On Tuesday, the governor of California approved the criminalization of revenge porn. “Distributing private images with the intent to harass or annoy” may be punished by up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine on a first offense.

However, the statute does not protect victims who took the photos themselves, a group that makes up 80% of revenge porn victims according to a survey by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. The law applies only to images that were captured by someone without knowledge or consent of the victim.

Former revenge porn mogul Hunter Moore told tech publication The Register that he doesn’t think the government can stand in the way of websites like the one he started in 2010 — the now-defunct IsAnyoneUp.com.

“This doesn’t stop anything. If you read the bill it is just for peeping toms, not for selfies, which is all revenge porn really is,” he told the Register. “These stupid old white people are even more stupid to think they can stop it … It will just make revenge porn bigger by driving traffic, because people are talking about it.”

Moore added that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 is still in place, a law that protects owners of interactive websites from responsibility for content their users post.

As a victim, Jacobs points out that the California law also specifies a motive — emotional distress of the victim — that can be difficult to prove in court.

“Sometimes people post [revenge porn] to gain acceptance or notoriety on the internet, or even just to make money,” she says, explaining that a victim who initially consented to being photographed would have to prove she was emotionally distressed to win her case.

Gene Policinski, senior vice president of the First Amendment Center, says that civil lawsuits are one option for victims, although they can cause embarrassment and financial burdens.

He added that while California’s recent legislation indicates that the law is catching up with technological advances, lawmakers should be careful not to trample on First Amendment rights.

“Citizens have a right to be concerned anytime a government moves to restrain or punish speech, even if it’s repugnant,” he says. “What may be repugnant to one may not be to another.”

Meeghan Falls, a former Lamar University student, would not have been protected under a law like California’s.

Within a two-year relationship, Falls says she sent countless sexually explicit photos to her boyfriend at the time, a fellow Lamar student.

“After a year and half, you think, ‘I’m going to be with this guy forever,'” says Falls, now 21. “I didn’t have any problems sending these kinds of photos to him.”

The couple eventually split, and about two months later, Falls says she received a Facebook message from a stranger informing her that her photos and other identifying information were on a revenge porn site.

“My stomach dropped. I started shaking. I started crying immediately,” she says. “I felt like the whole world had seen me naked.”

Falls says she is currently in a civil lawsuit against her ex that includes three other women whose images he distributed on revenge porn sites.

Jacobs says that in a world where technology and sexuality overlap so heavily, she rejects the notion that preventing revenge porn means abstaining from taking sexual images.

“When people say that, it’s absolutely another version of blaming the victim. It’s the same thing as someone telling someone who’s been physically raped that they shouldn’t have been wearing that skirt,” she says, adding that she hopes to see further state and federal legislation.

Falls says telling her story is difficult, but she hopes it can prevent her experience from happening to someone else.

“I trusted this man … foolishly, but I trusted this man to keep [the photos] private, confidential,” she says. “As long as we can stop other girls from doing this and having this done to them, as long as something positive can come out of this, it would be just wonderful.”

Falls, who is now engaged to be married, says the betrayal she experienced hasn’t made her cynical.

“I don’t want people to think that they shouldn’t trust anyone, but just be careful who you do trust,” she says. “Make sure they’re worthy of it.”

Millennials deal with consequences of ‘revenge porn’ – USA TODAY
https://news.google.com/news/feeds?hl=en&gl=us&authuser=0&q=revenge+porn&um=1&ie=UTF-8&output=rss
revenge porn – Google News… Read the rest

New California ‘revenge porn’ law may miss some victims – CNN

revenge porn

(CNN) — For many victims, California’s new “revenge porn” law doesn’t go far enough.

Revenge porn, also called cyber revenge, is the act of posting sexual photos of an ex-lover online for vengeance. The photos were typically exchanged consensually over the course of a relationship and meant only for the other person.

There are websites dedicated to posting and making money off of these types of shots, which are primarily of women.

The new California law, which was signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown, is only the second revenge porn-specific piece of legislation in the United States. Under the law, people convicted of distributing sexual images of exes face six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine.

Critics say the law has some glaring loopholes. It only applies when the person accused of spreading the images online is also the photographer. It does not cover photos a person takes of themselves and shares with a lover, say during a sexting session.

Up to 80% of revenge porn victims had taken the photos of themselves, according to a recent survey by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. CCRI is a group founded by revenge porn victims and activists to push for legal reform in the United States. That means the vast majority of revenge porn cases would not qualify under this law.

“I definitely don’t think this bill goes far enough, though it is a step in the right direction,” said CCRI’s Holly Jacobs, who became a prominent anti-revenge porn activist after she was a victim herself. In Jacobs’ case, most of her photos posted online were self-shots but some were taken by her ex.

“We would only have been able to follow through with the charges if we linked his IP address to the pictures that he took of me, not those that I took of myself,” said Jacobs.

Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at Miami Law School who is on the board at CCRI, said one of the possible reasons the law did not include self-shots is that the distinction was required so people who sent unsolicited nude photos of themselves were not covered. However, the law does specifically state that photos be taken “under circumstances where the parties agree or understand that the image shall remain private.”

“I think we are really looking at a ‘blame the victim’ mentality here,” said Franks, meaning people who take the photos of themselves were “asking for it.”

“It’s disturbing that the drafters apparently think that some victims of nonconsensual pornography are not worth protecting,” said Franks.

Another issue is that there could be difficulty enforcing the law even in cases that do qualify. The law applies to people who post photos to “harass or annoy” and the perpetrators must have “intent to cause serious emotional distress.” That could exclude people who post these types of images only for financial gain or other reasons like bragging rights. The sites that make money off of submitted revenge porn might be able to avoid prosecution by claiming they did not know the victims and therefore couldn’t have intended any harm.

“Until now, there was no tool for law enforcement to protect victims,” California state Sen. Anthony Cannella said in a statement. Cannella was one of the main authors of the new law. “Too many have had their lives upended because of an action of another that they trusted.”

Cannella’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding criticisms of the law.

Previously, victims of revenge porn had limited recourse when photos taken with consent were posted online. A person could sue the ex who uploaded the images or the site hosting them for invasion of privacy, but it didn’t constitute harassment under California state laws. Victims would have had to pay for a costly civil suit.

California is only the second state to have a law that addresses revenge porn. New Jersey has had a related law since 2003 that makes it a felony to post secretly recorded videos or photos online.

Now other states are considering their own revenge porn laws, including New York and Wisconsin. Franks has been working with both states on early drafts of their laws, and she says that so far it looks like both avoid what she considers the weaknesses of the California law and include First Amendment protections.

Activists would also like to see a federal law address revenge porn.

Early on, the ACLU voiced concerns about the California law’s potentially negative impact on free speech, for example, if someone wanted to share a photo that had political implications or if a photo or video contained evidence of a crime.

Florida was considering a revenge porn law but scrapped it following First Amendment concerns.

The California bill contains an urgency clause, meaning it will go into effect immediately. The first few cases will show how effective the new legislation is in curbing revenge porn. Since it’s nearly impossible to scrub an image from the Internet once it has gone viral, the best possible outcome is that the law discourages people from seeking this type of revenge in the first place.



New California ‘revenge porn’ law may miss some victims – CNN
https://news.google.com/news/feeds?hl=en&gl=us&authuser=0&q=revenge+porn&um=1&ie=UTF-8&output=rss
revenge porn – Google News… Read the rest

Revenge porn victim tells story, fights for change – WTOP

WASHINGTON – “It was completely devastating when I first found the pictures – I could feel myself go into shock.”

Holly Jacobs had no idea the racy photographs she’d shared with her boyfriend would be used against her in a publicly humiliating way after they broke up.

Yet, in 2009 a friend called to say Jacobs’ Facebook account had been hacked and a nude photo was online.

And it got worse.

“My photos and a video of me were up on a revenge porn website,” says Jacobs, who legally changed her name in the aftermath.

With her name, phone number and email address posted online, Jacobs was bombarded with unwanted attention. Her photos and videos were even sent to her boss.

Revenge porn sites make no bones about why they exist.

“They bill themselves as places in which we can get back at our exes,” says Professor Danielle Keats Citron of the University of Maryland law school.

And in most cases the sites are legal, says Citron.

New Jersey is the only state to make it a felony to share a person’s nude images without that person’s consent, although a bill cracking down on revenge porn in California is expected to be in the hands of the state’s governor shortly, Bloomberg reports.

“If this happened in Maryland it would be prosecuted under a statute called ‘Misuse of Electronic Communication,'” which is a misdemeanor with a maximum prison sentence of one year, says Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.

“It’s basically cyberharassment, which is an attempt to harass, alarm or annoy without any legitimate purpose to do so,” Gansler says.

In Virginia, harassment by computer is also a misdemeanor.

See more on the California effort in the video below:

Florida, where Jacobs lives, recently rejected a call to toughen its laws to protect against revenge porn.

After four years of trying to get the images taken down, Jacobs has sued her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Seay, who reportedly has said someone hacked into his computer and posted the photographs of Jacobs. Seay’s attorney, Charles Arline, denies the allegations against his client. “We’re anticipating making these legal arguments very soon,” he tells WTOP.

Jacobs also has created an advocacy website called End Revenge Porn.

The website refers to revenge porn as “a form of cyber-rape.” Jacobs warns women to protect their privacy by avoiding sharing potentially compromising photos.

“I know you might love and trust your boyfriend, but you just never know what’s going to happen when you break up,” says Jacobs.

Having personal images go viral is painful for any victim, Jacobs says. “Imagine telling your dad that there are nude photos and a video of you on the Internet,” says Jacobs.

Citron is advocating for Congress to amend the federal cyberstalking law to cover the use of any computer service that produces or discloses a sexually graphic image of a person without that person’s permission.

Revenge porn victim tells story, fights for change – WTOP
http://www.wtop.com/41/3448919/Revenge-porn-victim-tells-story-fights-for-change… Read the rest

Revenge porn victim devotes life fighting to change nation’s laws – Fox News

Holly Jacobs Revenge Porn Victim

Holly Jacobs, 30, is fighting to change the nation’s laws after private nude images of herself were posted on so-called “revenge porn” websites, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, without her consent or knowledge. (M.A. Williams)

 

When Holly Jacobs sent nude photographs of herself to a long-distance boyfriend she loved and trusted, the 23-year-old woman never imagined the horror that would befall her.

In August 2009, less than a year after the pair mutually ended their three-year relationship, Jacobs did a Google search of her name and discovered the naked photos on a so-called “revenge porn” website.

“I just went completely into shock,” said Jacobs, who hired a lawyer and eventually changed her birth name from “Holli Thometz” to Holly Jacobs.

“This is cyber-rape,” Jacobs, now 30, told FoxNews.com. “It’s all about the guy having control over the woman and exploiting her in a sexual way — the same way real-life rape does that. It violates you over and over again.”

What came next was perhaps more shocking to Jacobs. Police in Miami, where she lived at the time, took no action. They told her that “because you are over 18 and you consented, technically they are his property and he can do whatever he wants with them,” she recalled.

Jacobs, a 2005 graduate of Boston College who managed to earn a Ph.D during her ordeal, channeled her pain into advocacy for women similarly victimized by ex-boyfriends, who — without their knowledge or consent — posted photos meant to be private in the most public and humiliating way. Jacobs created the website “End Revenge Porn” and formed the group Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), under which she serves as CEO and executive director.

With the advancement of technology, millions of people — mostly teens and young adults — turn to “sexting” pornographic or inappropriate photos to their boyfriends or girlfriends, with little or no foresight into what may one day become of them.

“At this time, 49 states do little or nothing to stop malicious individuals from endangering lives and reputations by distributing sexually graphic pictures of people without their consent,” said Mary Anne Franks, a professor at University of Miami School of Law. “Both state and federal criminal laws are needed to prevent and address this form of sexual abuse.”

For Jacobs, the initial discovery of nude photos on a website called “AmIHotOrNotNude.com” was only the beginning of her nightmare.

The young woman hired a lawyer, who wrote a letter to Jacobs’ ex-boyfriend, Tampa resident Ryan Seay, to “just kind of scare him.” The photos immediately came down, Jacobs said.

In November 2011, Jacobs began dating someone new, and posted a picture of the two on her Facebook page. Hours later, she was bombarded by emails from strangers saying, “There are pictures of you all over ‘revenge porn’ websites.”

“My material went viral within three days. It was on over 200 websites, with my full name, my e-mail address, the school I attended, and a link to where I worked,” said Jacobs, who at the time was a teaching assistant at Florida International University.

And then a chilling e-mail arrived in her inbox from a fake Yahoo e-mail address that was created using her name. The writer told her to “get in touch concerning your photos” and warned her that a “nice video” was awaiting distribution, she recalled.

“Have your boss and co-worker seen it?” the taunting e-mail read.

The sender wrote that if Jacobs did not respond by a certain time, he would upload the video, titled, ““Masturbation 201 by Professor Holli Thometz.” And he did, she said.

According to Jacobs, the video was an old Skype interaction between her and Seay, which was recorded without her knowledge.

In April 2013, Jacobs filed a civil lawsuit against Seay as well as websites and servers that posted the photos and personal information. The lawsuit claims that Seay and the other defendants violated her privacy by posting such photos and information without her consent. The complaint also seeks a court order prohibiting additional publication by the defendant, and to retrieve or destroy all the photos in Seay’s possession, Jacobs’ Miami-based attorney, Patrick McGeehan, told FoxNews.com.

Seay, 28, could not be reached for comment. He has reportedly claimed someone hacked into his computer and stole the photos from him. In an e-mail to FoxNews.com, his attorney, Charles Arline, denied any wrongdoing by his client.

“At this time I can only relate that my client is eager to answer these charges and defend himself in the proper forum, i.e. the court system,” Arline wrote. “He adamantly disputes the allegations and is in no remote way affiliated with any type of revenge porn and has previously extended his support to Ms. Thometz or Ms Jacobs efforts.”

Click here to view the lawsuit  

“The laws have not kept up with technology, that’s the bottom line,” Jacobs said.

In New York, for example, such behavior would be criminal if the plaintiff could prove the video was secretly taken, according to legal sources.

“If a person was surreptitiously recorded or unaware that the video was being made, and the recording is then disseminated on one of these websites, this is a crime,” said Mark Bederow, a New York-based criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. “In New York, posting a video made in such a manner would constitute Unlawful Surveillance in the Second Degree, which is a felony.”

“Even if the person was aware she was being recorded, dissemination of this material in a manner designed to humiliate may constitute aggravated harassment. Other states have similar statutes,” Bederow said.

But University of Maryland School of Law Professor Danielle Keats Citron notes that such dissemination would only be criminal if the defendant engaged in a “harassing course of conduct as an ongoing harassment campaign.”

“One posting, even two, as damaging as it will be, would not constitute a crime in New York and other states,” Citron said. “It can’t be an isolated event.”

New Jersey remains the only state that makes it a felony to share an individual’s nude images without that person’s consent.

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Revenge porn law in California could pave way for rest of nation

A bill that would criminalize revenge porn — nude or sexual photos, generally of former wives or girlfriends, posted online by an angry ex — could pave the way for other states to adopt similar laws, putting perpetrators in jail for six months if convicted a first time, and up to a year for repeat violations. The bill, already approved by the California Senate, is expected to go to the state Assembly as soon as this week, despite concerns from some lawmakers and experts who fear it could curtail First Amendment rights.

“It’s traumatized real victims; it’s a growing problem,” California state Sen. Anthony Cannella, told NBC News. “Technology moves much faster than our laws,” said Cannella, a Republican, who authored the legislation. “When we identify a problem, it’s our responsibility to deal with it.”

If passed by the Assembly, SB 255 will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for approval. It’s not clear whether Brown will support it. “Generally, we do not comment on pending legislation,” Brown press spokesman Evan Westrup told NBC News.

One supporter with whom Cannella has been working is Holly Jacobs, a Florida woman who founded End Revenge Porn after her own nightmare with the issue began more than four years ago.

Like many other couples, Jacobs and her boyfriend had private photos of intimate moments — photos not meant for public consumption. After their breakup, Jacobs saw her photos plastered everywhere on the Web, including on Facebook and several revenge porn sites. Her email address was part of what was shared, “so I had harassing emails constantly coming in,” she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in May. “My work location was posted up and there, so I was terrified. I was so afraid that someone would physically stalk me.”

In the era of instant uploads, a slimy sub-industry of sites have emerged that are dedicated solely to such “revenge porn” shots and videos. It has become a money-making “sport,” of which one of the most notorious players is Hunter Moore, who was under FBI investigation for his controversial site, Is Anyone Up.

Though the sites often include personal information about the victims, including names, email addresses and even links to their Facebook profiles, the sites themselves are protected from liability because of Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which says that websites and Internet service providers can be treated as a publisher for “any information provided by another information content provider.” With little legal recourse, these victims are left feeling helpless and humiliated.

Jacobs’ fear turned to anger, and she decided she would no longer be a victim. She filed criminal and civil charges against her ex. The ex, through his attorney, has denied the charges against him, contending he is just as much a victim as Jacobs, and that the reason the photos and video were shared is that his computer was hacked.

Those who might think, “Well, you shouldn’t have taken those photos … ” aren’t living in the real world of what has become, especially for a younger generation, a cultural-technological phenomenon as normal as tweeting and texting.

“It’s absolutely just a new version of victim blaming,” Jacobs said in May. “What I would say to victims when they hear that is, just hold on to that little voice inside of you that says, ‘This is not right.’ What’s happening to me is not OK, and there need to be laws in place against this.”

The California legislation, Jacobs told NBC News, “is so important because it has the potential to set a precedent for other states considering to criminalize revenge porn.”

Precedents and objections
The state that comes closest to doing that now is New Jersey, which since 2003 has had an invasion-of-privacy law aimed at video voyeurs, people who secretly videotape others naked or having sex without their consent, according to a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General in that state.

That law was one of those used to prosecute Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, found guilty last year after setting up a webcam to spy on his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, in 2010. Ravi livestreamed the video and tweeted about his roommates’s activities. Clementi, 18, committed suicide after learning about the public humiliation.

“Legislators did not discuss the issue of ‘revenge porn’ in passing this law” in 2003, Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the New Jersey attorney general’s office, told NBC News. “Nonetheless, the language of the statute is quite broad and arguably applies to allow prosecution of an individual in a ‘revenge porn’ situation.”

Other revenge porn law efforts could soon be underway in Texas, Wisconsin and Georgia, Jacobs said.

While most everyone will agree that the revenge porn practice is reprehensible, crafting legislation that doesn’t inadvertently restrict free speech is the challenge.

In Florida, where Jacobs lives, an attempt at a revenge porn law failed this year partly because of concerns the way the law was written could interfere with free speech. Jacobs cited another concern: a requirement that personal information, such as the victim’s name and email address, also be posted as part of the photos or videos shared.

“I’m sure the revenge porn posters would have easily found a way around this,” she told NBC News. “Our personal information is already posted when our faces are in these pictures.”

Florida State Sen. David Simmons and state Rep. Tom Goodson, both Republicans, plan to try again with a new bill with different wording next spring when the legislature is back in session.

Jeff Hermes, director of the Digital Media Law Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, said a “balance needs to be struck properly,” and he is not sure the California law will do that.

“You need to be extraordinarily careful in criminalizing privacy law because of the risk you’re going to deter legitimate speech,” he told NBC News. “With the California bill, I don’t see an exemption here for material that’s legitimately newsworthy.”

Take for example, he said, “circumstances where photographs exist of a political candidate who has run their campaign on their squeaky-clean image,” but there are photographs of that candidate in a compromising position.… Read the rest

Why Isn’t Revenge Porn Illegal Everywhere?


People who have their nude pictures posted on the Internet without consent — a vile practice known as revenge pornhave little legal recourse. That’s changing, but only very slowly, with legislation proposed in California earlier this year joining New Jersey as the second state with laws specifically targeting the practice.* The California bill passed the state Senate earlier this month and this week the California legislature will debate it. If the bill passes in its current form, posting revenge porn would be considered a misdemeanor and posters of their ex-girlfriends’ nudes could face up to a year of jail-time or a fine of up to $2,000.

Despite what sounds like a much-needed bill for a practice that victims and advocates like Holly Jacobs — the first Floridian, according to her lawyer, to sue her ex for the alleged distribution of non-consensual pornography — say is becoming increasingly common, not everyone thinks explicit revenge porn bills are the way to go. One California State senator voted against the proposed legislation arguing, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, that it limits free speech, reports The New York Times‘s Somini Sengupta today. Both Florida and Missouri rejected similar bills last year because of free speech concerns.

In addition, other legal experts argue that current laws already protect revenge porn victims, under harassment, stalking, and even copyright law. “I’m unclear exactly how much ground the new law would cover that isn’t already covered by existing laws, such as anti-harassment/anti-stalking laws,” Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, told Sengupta. “As usual, one of the key questions is how existing law has failed and what behavior is being newly criminalized.” Indeed, Jacobs’s May 2013 lawsuit aims to charge her ex-boyfriend with one count of stalking, two counts of harassment by use of personal identification info and one count of unlawful publication, all of which could add up to a total of four years’ jail time. (Jacobs worked with Florida lawmakers to pass a bill, which ultimately failed, to make the practice of posting pornographic images on the Internet without consent a third degree felony.)

Still, Jacobs and others say laws specifically targeting revenge porn only cover repeated postings of images. The Internet and sites like the now defunct Is Anyone Up and its even more vile replacement HunterMoore.tv, from noted jerk and Internet entrepreneur Hunter Moore, make a single posting even more impactful because just one image posted without permission can go viral, and harassment or stalking laws might not cover a single infraction. In addition, having specific laws against posting pornographic images online without permission would deter the behavior, argues University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron. “It signals taking the issue seriously, that harms are serious enough to be criminalized,” she told Sentgupta.

*This post originally said New Jersey passed a revenge porn law in 2011. It already had one on the books.

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Why Isn’t Revenge Porn Illegal Everywhere? – The Atlantic Wire

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