CRIME

Revenge Porn Could Soon Be Illegal In California

08/27/2013 08:15 pm ET | Updated Aug 27, 2013

“I never thought that this person would have done this to me,” said an anonymous woman to WGN Chicago. "I thought he was the one that I was going to end up marrying."

The woman was a victim of "revenge porn"--the practice of posting nude or graphic content of a person online without his or her consent. During a relationship, she sent private, explicit photos to her boyfriend. But after a rocky breakup, he posted them online. Now, she can't escape them.

“It’s the worst betrayal that could ever happen to someone," she said.

Scorned lovers have long sought revenge on exes, but in the age of the Internet, smartphone cameras and YouTube, it's a whole new ballgame.

On Tuesday, the California State Assembly debated Senate Bill 255, which would make revenge porn a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. The bill cleared the Senate by a 37-1 earlier this summer.

"Right now law enforcement has no tools to combat revenge porn or cyber-revenge," said Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), who proposed the bill, in a statement. "Unfortunately it is a growing trend and there are a lot of victims out there, a lot more than I ever imagined. It's destroying people's lives.”

The bill has drawn tension between privacy advocates who cite the victims, and free speech advocates like the ACLU, who argued that the content is Constitutionally protected.

High-profile incidents such as the suicide of Audrie Pott have shined a spotlight on the issue in recent years. Pott was a California teen who was allegedly sexually assaulted while passed out a party after drinking. Nude photos of her were allegedly circulated throughout the school in the days leading up to her suicide.

Current legislation prohibits filming or photographing a person fully or partially undressed in a private place without their consent. The new bill would include photos or videos taken with their consent when it is then distributed without permission with the intention of causing distress.

The bill explains:

This bill would provide that any person who photographs or records
by any means the image of another, identifiable person with his or her consent who is in a state of full or partial undress in any area in which the person being photographed or recorded has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and subsequently distributes the image taken, and the other person suffers serious emotional distress would constitute disorderly conduct subject to that same punishment.

“People who post or text pictures that are meant to be private as a way to seek revenge are reprehensible,” said Cannella."This is a common sense bill that clamps down on those who exploit intimacy and trust for revenge or personal gain.”

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