04/21/2014 09:35 am ET Updated Apr 21, 2014

Debunking The First Amendment Myths Surrounding Revenge Porn Laws

Andy Whale via Getty Images

Disclosing someone’s nude image in violation of trust and confidence (often known as nonconsensual pornography or revenge porn) is a destructive invasion of privacy that can cause irreversible harm to a person’s physical and emotional well-being, professional reputation, and financial security. Lawmakers are rightfully paying attention. Seven states have criminalized the practice; 18 states have pending bills; Representative Jackie Speier has expressed interest in making it a federal crime.

Some object to criminalizing invasions of sexual privacy because free speech will be chilled. That’s why it is crucial to craft narrow statutes that only punish individuals who knowingly and maliciously invade another’s privacy and trust. Other features of anti-revenge porn laws can ensure that defendants have clear notice about what constitutes criminal activity and exclude innocent behavior and images related to matters of public interest.

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