CHICAGO
01/30/2014 06:17 pm ET Updated Jan 30, 2014

Illinois Lawmaker Takes Aim At 'Revenge Porn' Posters And Peddlers With New Proposal

Oliver Strewe via Getty Images

"Revenge porn" could become a felony crime in Illinois with hefty fines and jail time under a new proposal filed in Springfield Wednesday.

If passed, the legislation sponsored by state Sen. Michael Hastings (D–Orland Park) would also make it a felony to host any website that forces victims to pay a fee to have their images taken down.

“It’s extortion, it’s wrong and it’s a growing problem,” Hastings said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this happens daily to unsuspecting people who often times use technology without fully realizing the consequences.”

The posting of so-called "revenge porn" or "involuntary porn" is done so without the subject's permission -- often by a bitter ex -- with accompanying information like address, workplace or social media accounts that identifies the victim.

In still more instances -- like the case a California woman whose computer was hacked for personal photos of herself that showed her topless -- the images are stolen outright.

"Despite what is advertised, 'Revenge Porn' is not pornography. When it all comes down, Revenge Porn is simply harassment," states a Change.org petition calling for Illinois to amend its cyberstalking laws.

Currently, victims can't go after web hosts directly due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

If passed, Hastings' proposal would make revenge porn a felony punishable by up to a $25,000 fine and three years in jail.

New Jersey and California already have laws on the books criminalizing revenge porn. The Tribune reports similar bills are pending in 13 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have urged caution when crafting laws against revenge porn.

"We generally don’t think that finding more ways to put people in prison for speech is a good thing," said Adi Kamdar, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Boston Globe in November. "A lot of times, these laws — if they aren’t narrowly focused enough — they can be interpreted too broadly."

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