michigan law specifically outlaws revenge porn

New Michigan Law Against ‘Revenge Porn’

Although issues related to sending sexually explicit photos via a mobile phone or other device is something many people associate more often with teens, the practice can lead to trouble for adults, too.

In recent years many cases have appeared in which a person has shared images with a significant other and then when the relationship ends the private image is shared with others as a means of hurting the other person.

Cases like this have come to be known as “revenge porn” or “cyber revenge,” and until recently, Michigan prosecutor’s have had a difficult time prosecuting the cases because there hasn’t been a law directly dealing with such cases.

Last year one such case popped up in Michigan’s Charlevoix County. The defendant in the case was ultimately charged with one count of unlawful posting of a message, a two-year charge.

However a new Michigan state law that Gov. Rick Snyder signed recently now specifically criminalizes the distribution of sexually-explicit materials intended to threaten, coerce, or intimidate.

In a news release issued last week Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof noted that revenge porn cases often occur after a break-up, when one partner distributes intimate material sent during the couple’s relationship.

Under the new law, a person who distributes sexually explicit materials with the intent to threaten, coerce, or intimidate another person faces a $500 fine and up to 93 days in jail. A second offense can result in a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

“Our office is pleased to see the bipartisan support these bills have received,” said Charlevoix County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory Justis. “It’s another tool in our toolbox to respond to the tremendous rise in the use of social media to engage in domestic abuse and cyber harassment.”

State legislators have tried since 2014 to pass a law targeting revenge porn or non-consensual pornography. With the new law, Michigan joins 27 other states with statutes specifically designed to prevent and respond to revenge porn.

The bills were sponsored by Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, and Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

“The new law balances our cherished freedoms of speech with the need to address behavior intended solely to harm another person, often seriously and irreversibly,” said Justis, who primarily handles cases involving domestic violence and criminal sexual conduct. “Revenge porn is about control and abuse, and the law targets only those who intend to engage in control and abuse.”

“It will also help shift the focus away from innocent victims, who are often blamed for their own victimization, to those who commit a serious crime,” he said.

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Florida Man Allegedly Posted Explicit Photos of His Estranged Wife on Facebook

Steven Ward mugshot

Steven Ward posted explicit photo of estranged wife on Facebook

A man accused of posting sexually explicit photos of his wife on Facebook is being charged under a new state law that outlaws “revenge porn.”
The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office charged Steven James Ward, 32, with sexual, cyberstalking and violation of pre-trial release after his wife showed deputies messages and the Facebook post.
Ward is facing charges under the state’s so-called revenge porn laws, which took effect in October. It makes it illegal to post sexually explicit photos in an effort to seek revenge or harass someone.

Ward was last arrested on Dec. 11, 2015 on domestic-violence related charges.

Reports show he was released four days later under the condition that he would only have consensual communications with his wife.

After that, Ward sent his wife harassing text messages and an explicit sexual photo of herself, deputies said.

He then sent her a screenshot of his public Facebook post, which included her name and a sexual image of her, deputies said.

She told deputies that those photos were sent when they were still together but were meant to remain private. Reports show the couple is still legally married.

She texted Ward, “DO NOT CONTACT ME ANYMORE STEVEN” after receiving multiple unpleasant text messages from him, but deputies saw that he continued to text her.

Deputies arrested Ward at his Geneva home in rural Seminole County on Friday.

According to the arrest report, “Steven became belligerent when confronted and was immediately secured in handcuffs.”

Deputies said Ward was hostile toward detention deputies when given the opportunity to provide a sworn statement.

Ward remains at John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford without bail.

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Texas Passes Revenge Porn Bill

revenge porn bill passedTexans who post nude or sexually explicit pictures on-line to hurt another individual, usually an ex-spouse or ex-partner, would be subject to civil and criminal penalties under a revenge porn bill unanimously accepted on Tuesday by the Senate.

“This bill gets at a very disturbing Internet trend, the posting of nude or sexually explicit images without the consent of the affected person and with the intent to harm,” Garcia said. “In many instances, the images are posted by an ex-partner seeking revenge or to cause harm, and indeed this does cause immediate and irreversible harm.”

She noted, once an image is posted online, it is extremely hard to take down. “This is a very intimate violation of a person’s privacy and no different than the trauma caused by sexual violence, harassment or abuse,” the senator said. “More often than not, the victim is a woman.”
Civil and criminal penalties could be assessed under the bill against not only the perpetrator, but also the owner of the website that publishes the images.

All women senators joined as co-authors of the legislation. “This is an important piece of legislation for the women of Texas,” asserted Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston. The measure now goes to the House.… Read the rest

Woman’s ex headed for trial under new Wisconsin revenge porn law

In what has become an increasingly common phenomenon, a Milwaukee woman had to face having nude and seminude photos of her posted on the Internet in April as collateral damage of a messy breakup.

Her ex, Keslin Jean Jacques, told her there was nothing she could do to stop him, according to a criminal complaint, because Gov. Scott Walker had not yet signed into law a bill aimed at outlawing the practice.

Apparently he hadn’t been keeping up with the news.

Walker had signed the bill 12 days earlier, and Jean Jacques, 31, of Milwaukee, became one of the first people charged under the new law on April 22.

The offense — posting or publishing a sexually explicit image without consent — is a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months in jail and $10,000 fine.

Jean Jacques’ case is scheduled for trial Wednesday.

It was initially set for August, but a committee was still working on the standard jury instructions for the new charge.

Revenge porn involves the publication of intimate photos that were once shared willingly, often with identifying information, even an email address or phone number of the subject, almost always a female.

The first inclination of many victims and their lawyers is to try to get Internet service providers or social media sites to take down the images, or to hold them liable, but the federal Communications Decency Act largely provides immunity to platforms for what their users do.

The practice has been charged as cyberstalking or harassment in some states.

Other victims have tried personal injury actions against ex-lovers who post the photos. Some scholars have even suggested copyright law might be an effective tool, since many of the explicit photos are “selfies,” taken by the subjects themselves.

California was the first state to pass legislation specifically aimed at revenge porn, and prosecutors won the first conviction under that 2013 law last month.

About a dozen states have tried to follow California’s lead and outlaw the practice but have run into First Amendment concerns (except when the subjects are minors; then child pornography laws apply).

In Arizona, booksellers challenged a 2014 law that made revenge porn a felony as overbroad and likely to make criminal books that contain certain nude images that really don’t fit the intent of the law.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn this week signed into law a measure that bans the practice of revenge porn, according to the Chicago Tribune. The law makes it a felony to post sexually explicit videos and photos of another person online without his or her permission.

Wisconsin’s law prohibits publication of “private representation” without the consent of the person depicted.

It defines “private representation” as a nude or partially nude image intended by the subject to be “captured, viewed or possessed” only by the person intended by the subject.

It does not require any intent by the publisher to embarrass the subject; an ex-boyfriend who claims he was publishing the photo to bring the subject compliments would be just as guilty.

The Wisconsin law also provides an exception for posting a private image “that is newsworthy or of public importance.”

Woman’s ex headed for trial under new Wisconsin revenge porn law – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Michigan Senate Passes Bill Targeting Revenge Porn

LANSING, MI — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved a bill targeting revenge porn that would make it a crime to post sexually explicit images of a person online without their consent.

Individuals who post images obtained without permission or refuse to take down images given to them for personal viewing could be charged with a misdemeanor resulting in up to 93 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $500.

A second or subsequent violation could result in up to one year behind bars and/or a $1,000 fine.

The bipartisan bills, sponsored by Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge and Democratic Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren, passed the upper chamber in unanimous votes and now head to the House for consideration.

“In a split second a sexually explicit photo can be uploaded to the Internet without the individual’s consent -– permanently ruining their reputation,” Bieda said in a statement. “The support Republicans and Democrats have shown for these bills is proof that cyber revenge will not be tolerated in the state of Michigan.”

The legislation would provide an affirmative defense in court if the accused took all reasonable steps to have the “photograph, drawing or other visual image” removed upon written request.

A handful of states are moving to criminalize “revenge porn,” according to USA Today. The newspaper last month reported the story of Holly Jacobs, who became the face of the movement after an ex-boyfriend posted sexually explicit photos of her online.

‘Revenge porn’ bill passed by Michigan Senate would criminalize unwanted … – MLive.com
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Rhode Island Senate passes bill targeting revenge porn

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island Senate approved a bill on Tuesday to prohibit intentional dissemination, online posting or selling of sexually explicit images without consent of the person depicted in them.

Introduced by Sen. Erin P. Lynch, D-Warwick, on behalf of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin’s office, the bill applies to video and/or images of a person engaged in explicit sexual conduct and those that show a person’s intimate areas.

The bill advanced in the Senate in a 33-to-0 vote and, if next approved in the House of Representatives without amendments, would go to the governor’s desk. “Posting explicit photos of a former partner without that person’s consent is extremely hurtful and embarrassing. Penalties need to be strong to ensure that people think twice before attempting to degrade an individual in this way,” Lynch said in a statement following Senate passage. She said this is a “new kind of virtual assault” that “disproportionately targets women.”

There are several states with some type of law against “revenge porn” and bills have been submitted in at least 27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“The latest phenomenon of individuals posting intimate photos and videos on revenge porn sites with the mission to embarrass exes takes the exploitation and degradation of people, especially women, to a new level of depravity,” Kilmartin said. He added that “the images or videos may stay in cyberspace forever, yet victims are left with no recourse to have the images removed or seek justice for themselves. Passage of this legislation will give victims some comfort that the perpetrators will be held accountable.”

A person would be guilty of “unauthorized dissemination of indecent material” when he or she uses a device to “capture, record, or store visual images of another person 18 years of age or older engaged in sexually explicit conduct or of the intimate areas of another person” when that person “would have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” the bill says.

It includes language making allowance for “constitutionally protected activity” that would not fall under the crime.

The maximum possible penalty for someone convicted would be three years in prison, up to a $3,000 fine or both, according to the bill.

R.I. Senate passes bill targeting ‘revenge porn’ – The Providence Journal
Source: http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20140520-r.i.-senate-passes-bill-targeting-revenge-porn.ece
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Illinois Senate votes to outlaw revenge porn

SPRINGFIELD — Posting sexually explicit pictures of intimate friends or ex-lovers on the web would become illegal in Illinois under legislation the Senate passed Thursday.

Sponsoring Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Orland Hills, said the practice, known as revenge porn, represents “cyberbullying at its max.”

Under the proposal, it would be a felony to post nude and sexually explicit pictures of another person without his or her permission. The bill also would make it a crime to require a fee to get pictures removed from a web site. The maximum penalty would be up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine, though judges would have discretion to impose lesser punishment.

Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, will sponsor Hastings’ measure in the House, but has his own version and expects to meld the two together.

“Legislation like this is needed in Illinois,” said Drury, who noted similar bills have passed in California and New Jersey. “It’s needed everywhere and on a federal level. I think this is a big problem. It ruins people’s lives. So we need to do something to help.”

The move attempts to update statutes to address technological changes as social media advances on the Internet.

The Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has argued the bill would limit the First Amendment right to free speech, but Hastings said not all speech is protected in the U.S. Constitution.

“Anything that’s obscene in nature isn’t protected,” Hastings said. “I think that non-consensual explicit pictures posted online is obscene, and it won’t hold the same judicial standard as regular free speech would.”

The bill passed the Senate 52-0.


Illinois Senate votes to outlaw revenge porn – Chicago Tribune
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Az lawmaker targets revenge porn, seeking felony charge

Some images are posted by angry exes, while others are circulated around schools. No matter how sexually explicit photos and
videos make the rounds, one Arizona lawmaker wants to make so-called revenge porn a criminal offense.“People have taken their lives because of the mortification that happens in these situations,” said Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, author of HB 2515. The bill would make it a felony to knowingly distribute images showing a person who is nude or engaged in a sexual act without the written consent of the pictured individual. It carries harsher penalties if the individual is recognizable.

The House Judiciary Committee unanimously endorsed the bill Thursday, sending it to the House floor by way of the Rules Committee.

Will Gaona, system advocate at the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, told the committee that such images can be used by an abusive partner to trap a victim.

“Currently there’s few if any repercussions that people face for sharing these images,” he said. “We believe criminalization is both the most appropriate response and most effect deterrent for this behavior.”

California and New Jersey have both passed laws to fight revenge porn, and Utah lawmakers are considering a similar bill.

Rep. Lupe Chavira Contreras, D-Cashion, who voted for the bill, said he was concerned about how it would apply to minors who may not know better.

“There’s a lot of kids, high school kids, that are sexting,” he said.

Rebecca Baker, legislative liaison for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, noted that sexting by juveniles is a petty offense under state law. She said exempting juveniles from Mesnard’s bill could be a way to address those concerns.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, the committee’s chairman, questioned whether someone who has shared sexually explicit images of himself or herself is entitled to privacy.

“I think there’s some difficulty claiming you have a right to privacy because you sent it and it’s on the entire system,” he said.

“You can’t absolve someone of complete stupidity,” Farnsworth said.

Mesnard said not all sexually explicit photo exchanges occur between young people and questioned whether people would find sexting as inappropriate and stupid if it occurred between a married couple.

“I’m not sure we should be telling people what to do in a loving, healthy, possibly marital relationship,” he said.

“If we become a society where we’re so terrified of what someone might do when we trust them, that’s just sad,” he added.

Rep. Justin Pierce, R-Mesa, said that he’s concerned about sending the message that while sexting is stupid a person who does so will be protected if the images find their way to unintended viewers.

“By protecting the conduct too much we actually enable it,” Pierce said.

Mesnard said it’s time for Arizona to send a message that taking revenge in such a manner is unacceptable.

“In all honesty, I wish this bill wasn’t necessary,” he said.

Az lawmaker targets revenge porn, seeking felony charge – TucsonSentinel.com
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Copyright Law: Our Best Weapon Against Revenge Porn?

Titian/Rebecca J. Rosen

“Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.” – Sir Francis Bacon

* * *

When federal agents arrested Hunter Moore last month, the Internet breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Dubbed the “Most Hated Man on the Internet,” Moore ran the notorious revenge porn website IsAnyoneUp. His site racked up millions of pageviews and thousands of dollars in advertising revenue by posting sexually explicit photographs and detailed personal information about the people he featured on the site.

According to the indictment, Moore relied on a co-defendant, Charles “Gary Jones” Evens, to hack into victims’ email accounts and obtain nude photographs to feature on IsAnyoneUp. The pair is charged with one count of conspiracy, seven counts of aggravated identity theft, and seven counts of “unauthorized access of a protected computer to obtain information.”

Moore allegedly obtained some of the photos through hacking, but bitter exes submitted many more.

The photos hosted by websites like IsAnyoneUp are often referred to as “revenge porn.” The phenomenon is [B]: One in 10 former partners threaten to post sexually explicit images of their exes online, and an estimated 60 percent follow through. (It’s also worth mentioning that upwards of 80 percent of revenge porn victims are women.)

The harms caused by revenge [B] are very real—people featured on these sites receive solicitations over social media, lose their jobs, or live in fear that their family and future employers will discover the photos.


The Origins of [B]

Moore may have been the “King of Revenge Porn,” but he wasn’t the first contender for the throne.

[B]In 1980, someone at Hustler Magazine had the idea to start Beaver Hunt, a contest that published reader-submitted images of naked women. Beaver Hunt photos were often accompanied by details about the woman: her hobbies, her sexual fantasies, and sometimes her name. Some of the photos were stolen. Exes submitted many more.

Throughout the ’80s, women sued Hustler for publishing their photos in Beaver Hunt without their permission. Several courts determined that publishing intimate photos without verifying whether the pictured women actually gave the go-ahead gave the false impression that all of the featured women felt comfortable with their pictures appearing in a “coarse and sex-centered magazine.”

Revenge porn websites have adopted many of the features that made Beaver Hunt notable: showing off user-generated content, submitted without the pictured person’s consent or knowledge, flanked by personal information.

There is one important difference between a nude photo appearing on a website or in the pages of a print magazine. The impact of the photo, even one featured in a popular magazine like Hustler, was still constrained by the fact that it was bound in print. Pages of the magazine could be torn out or photocopied, but the likelihood of a prospective employer coming across a Beaver Hunt photo through happenstance was slim to none.

The likelihood of an employer Googling an applicant and following up on a hit from a [B]? Significantly more likely. Throw links, cross-postings, and email into the mix, and it becomes all the more certain that revenge porn will be discovered.


Problems with Preventing Revenge Porn

In many ways, the lawsuits pending against revenge porn websites echo the privacy suits brought against Beaver Hunt. So far, though, victims have had limited success going after revenge porn uploaders and websites.

It isn’t because existing laws aren’t applicable. Victims who are photographed without their knowledge can use state voyeurism or Peeping Tom laws. Victims whose photos were Photoshopped or whose names were linked to naked images of other people may be able to use defamation law. Because an estimated 40 percent of non-consensual pornography was obtained through hacking, those victims can rely on the civil provisions of the federal hacking law—the same one used to prosecute Moore.

So why haven’t all these sites been shut down?

Many of the lawsuits against revenge porn websites are for tort claims like stalking, harassment or invasion of privacy. The problem is that most stalking and harassment laws are not applicable to revenge porn submitters because there is no repeated course of conduct or direct communication with the victim. False light claims for invasion of privacy—like those alleged by women who were featured in Beaver Hunt without their knowledge—may be successful against submitters. However, these laws don’t provide victims with a way to take down cross-posted, cached or linked versions of their photos on other websites.

That would require additional injunctions against additional parties, and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act renders most claims against websites dead on arrival.

Section 230 protects interactive service providers, or ISPs, from liability for user-generated content. That protection does not apply if an ISP is also an information content provider, meaning that the ISP hosts both original and user-[B]. Revenge porn websites aren’t creating the sexually explicit photos they post. In fact, more than 80 percent of revenge porn photos are “selfies.”

Getting rid of something like Section 230 may seem appealing—why shouldn’t revenge porn websites be held responsible for the salacious selfies they post?

Section 230 was enacted after Stratton Oakmont, the financial firm of The Wolf of Wall Street fame, [B] against the early ISP Prodigy. Congress was worried that allowing ISPs to be held liable for user-generated content would crush the Internet. Even in the early ’90s, enough people were plugged into services like Prodigy and AOL that policing every piece of user-generated content would have been impossible.

As broad as it seems, Section 230 doesn’t give websites carte blanche to host any and all user-generated content—immunity does not apply to violations of child pornography, obscenity, criminal or intellectual property laws. Narrowing Section 230, or getting rid of it entirely, would allow victims to hold revenge porn websites responsible for the content they host.

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Va. nursing student fights back after revenge porn video hits internet

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – There is a sexually explicit video of Virginia nursing student Nicole Coon online and she is not ashamed to tell people about it.

Coon, 25, said the video she sent to an old boyfriend appeared online around Thanksgiving.

“It blows my mind,” she said about websites that post sexually explicit photos and videos of people against their will — revenge porn.

Revenge porn pictures and videos are usually submitted to websites by ex-boyfriends and girlfriends who obtained them over the course of their relationship.

“I was hysterical, I was upset. The first thing I was thinking is what about my reputation,”

she recalled after finding out about the video.

To add insult to injury, she said the Netherlands-based website demanded $500 to remove the video. When she went to police, she said they told her the website’s action was doing was legal — and out of their jurisdiction.

Nicole Coon and Del. Marcus Simon

Nicole Coon and Del. Marcus Simon

Nicole decided to come forward with her story in an effort to help change that.

She spoke Tuesday alongside newly elected Virginia Del. Marcus Simon (D – Fairfax County) about a bill aimed out outlawing revenge porn in Virginia.

House Bill 49 would make it against the law to disseminate sexually explicit pictures of someone without their permission and with the intent to cause them substantial emotional distress, Del. Simon explained.

The bill would go after the ex-boyfriend or girlfriend who shares the photo or video, not the website that publishes them.

“Hopefully [this bill] deters this behavior,” Del. Simon said. “I don’t know how angry you are with your ex, but is it worth risking up to a year in prison to post that picture.”

Opponents of the bill argue it could infringe on First Amendment free speech rights.

The photo would not necessarily have to be published online for the ex to get in trouble. Photos and videos shared via email or text apply too.

“Sometimes it is a lot of phone to phone to phone viral sharing that does on. That can have that same damage and  also be covered under my legislation,” Del. Simon said.

Coon said she regretted making the video once she found out it had been posted online for the world to see, but now she’s over that feeling of regret.

“I’m here and I’m helping get the word out. As of right now, there is no regret. I have none,” she said.

Watch Joe St. George’s report on the CBS 6 News at 6.

Va. nursing student fights back after ‘revenge porn’ video hits internet
Source: http://wtvr.com/2014/01/14/revenge-porn-bill/
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