State lawmaker goes 3rd try on ‘Revenge Porn’ law

FOX10 News | WALA


Arizona lawmakers hope the third time is the charm for a so-called “Revenge Porn” bill. Revenge porn is when someone posts sexually explicit photos of a former mate without that person’s consent or knowledge. A revised third version of the bill passed the Arizona House on Wednesday. That bill will likely pass quickly in the Senate, potentially on Thursday.

The ACLU initially opposed the law, saying it was written too broadly. Librarians, photographers and artists, for example, could be unfairly prosecuted the civil rights group feared. Meanwhile, victims have had no way to get justice.

The bill is a bipartisan measure that would protect a growing number of victims, but it has struggled to leave the State Capitol.

“This is the third session dealing with this issue,” Rep. J.D. Mesnard, LD-17, said. He is sponsoring the bill.

House Bill 2001, a proposed revenge porn law, has been hanging in the balance for eight months.

“We’ve had, I think I identified about 10 cases for you, where we weren’t able to prosecute under the law as written,” explained Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

The first version of the bill passed in 2014 but county prosecutors couldn’t enforce it after the ACLU sued over concerns about how the law may infringe on First Amendment rights.

Mesnard then revised it.

“We sent it over to the Senate,” Mesnard said. “You can ask them why they neglected to vote on it. It was probably just a mistake.”

Ultimately, the bill that would have made revenge porn a felony missed out on a vote before the last legislative session ended.

“I felt extremely frustrated because I know that there are victims out there,” Mesnard said.

Mesnard was referring to victims like “Nicole” who described for us last June how an ex-boyfriend humiliated and harassed her using intimate photos.

“He got angry after the relationship ended and he posted them online without my permission and without my knowledge,” she said.

Will the third time be the charm?

The bill is fast-tracking through the Legislature and specifically spells out what it means to digitally humiliate or harass an ex.

“What the ACLU wanted was a ‘motive’ behind the sharing or spreading of the photo, as well as an expectation of privacy when the photo was originally shared with the person who then spreads it,” Mesnard explained.

The bill has an emergency clause, meaning it goes into law as soon as Gov. Doug Ducey presumably signs it. County attorneys will certainly be checking cases they’ve been unable to prosecute to see if they can now bring charges.

http://www.fox10tv.com/story/30961269/state-lawmaker-goes-3rd-try-on-revenge-porn-law… Read the rest

Arizona court puts revenge porn law on hold

PHOENIX — State officials have agreed not to pursue anyone from booksellers to Internet posters under a new revenge porn law, at least not for now.

The order signed late Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton gives Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, a chance to re-craft the controversial measure to see if he can address challenger concerns the law violates the First Amendment. If he can, the lawsuit goes away.

Mesnard said he already has some ideas in mind.

But he said some of the concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union and others are “pretty far-fetched.” And Mesnard said he does not want to dilute the legislation to the point it is no longer meaningful.

The law approved earlier this year makes it a felony to “intentionally disclose, display, distribute, publish, advertise or offer” a photo, video, film or digital recording of someone else who is naked “if the person knows or should have known that the depicted person has not consented to the disclosure.” The legislation covers not just images of nudity but also anyone engaged in any sex act.

Offenders could end up in prison for up to 2½ years — or 3¾ years if the person is recognizable.

The target is so-called “revenge porn” where someone may have taken a compromising photo during a relationship that was not meant to be shared with others. Mesnard said it becomes an entirely different situation when the relationship ends, often badly, and the images get posted online.

The ACLU and a private law firm representing booksellers sued, charging the law would make criminals out of those who sell, display or simply show images of others who are naked but have not granted specific permission. ACLU attorney Lee Rowland said the result is a “chilling effect” on merchants, causing them to pull books from their shelves for fear prosecutors will use the law against them.

Rowland said the law is so broad that a mother who shows a naked photo of her baby to a neighbor could be charged.

The deal approved by Bolton is based on a promise by Robert Ellman, the state’s solicitor general, not to use the new law while efforts to rework it are underway. The attorneys for 14 of the 15 counties also signed the agreement; Yuma County is expected to join the pact after Thanksgiving.

One possible change might be a more restrictive definition of “nudity” to exclude some images that otherwise might result in criminal charges.

Mesnard also said he will explore a “public interest” exception.

In essence, anyone whose publication or distribution of an image that would otherwise fit under the law could escape prosecution if there is a legitimate public purpose. That would cover things like the news photo of a Vietnamese girl running down the road naked after her clothes were burned off with napalm.

But Mesnard said he’s not convinced all the issues raised by challengers are legitimate. That includes the claim that a mother could end up behind bars for showing off the naked picture of her baby.

“That’s an example of something that really wouldn’t apply,” he said, because the mother has authority to give consent.

Somewhat trickier is the question of books which may have photos or images of someone who is naked. But Mesnard said he believes challengers are looking for problems where none exist.

“The bill only applies when a bookstore knew or should have known they haven’t consent,” he said. “I don’t know why a bookstore would be expected to know that.”

“We’ve just got to be careful to where we don’t water this down to where the bill becomes meaningless and is simply a feel-good statement,” he said. “If, at the end of the day, we just put something in statute that has no teeth and has a net that’s so narrow that few, if any cases will ever come under it, well, then we’ve just wasted everybody’s time.”

State and court put revenge porn law on hold – Arizona Daily Star
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Arizona House approves revenge porn bill


The Arizona House on Monday unanimously approved a bill aimed at stopping jilted lovers from posting explicit pictures of their former flames online to get revenge.

The revenge porn bill sponsored by Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, would make it a felony to post nude photos of a person without their written consent.

“As technology changes, people invent new ways of hurting folks,” Mesnard said. “If at the end of the day we send pictures to somebody in the context of a loving relationship, we should not have to wonder what that person is going to do.”

House Bill 2515 is one revenge porn bill of many being considered by lawmakers across the nation in response to the posting of “revenge porn” that has been made easier by the growth of social networking sites. Last year, California made it a misdemeanor to post such images.

Members of an Arizona House committee that passed the bill in February expressed concern that the proposal was too broad and could inadvertently target teens who “sext.”

“Sexting” involves sending racy images to peers that are sometimes resent to others. Current law makes the practice a petty offense.

Mesnard said an amendment to the bill addressed those concerns.

Nobody spoke in opposition to the bill Monday. It now heads to the Senate.

Arizona House OKs ‘revenge porn’ bill – azcentral.com
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