'Revenge Porn' Legislation Dies in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A proposal to target and imprison operators of "revenge porn" websites who disseminate nude photos without the subject's consent has died in Florida's Legislature.

Both HB 787 and companion bill SB 946 died on second reading on Friday, the last day of Florida's legislative session.

A spokeswoman for state Sen. David Simmons, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, told XBIZ that she wasn't sure whether the bill would be taken up again next year when the Legislature meets again in March.  

Florida's revenge porn bill, HB 787, introduced by state Rep. Tom Goodson, prohibited "knowing use of [content] that depicts nudity and contains any of depicted individual's personal identification information or counterfeit or fictitious information purporting to be such personal identification information, without first obtaining depicted person's written consent."

The proposal provided for enhanced penalties for violations involving the posting of victims younger than 16 years of age.  It also targeted perpetrators who reside out of state but post online content involving offended in-state residents.

"An offense is committed within this state if any conduct that is an element of the offense or any harm to the depicted person, including any harm to the depicted person's privacy interests, resulting from the offense occurs within this state," language of the bill says.

Violators of HB 787 would have been subject to a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years probation and a $5,000 fine.

Last month, adult industry attorney Lawrence Walters said his firm represents many adult clients who expressed concern that the enactment of such legislation would result in a variety of unintended consequences and increased legal exposure for their business operations.

Walters noted at the time that Florida's proposal appeared to be both vague and overbroad, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

"When faced with a choice of continuing to enforce some level of publishing standards or incurring potential criminal liability under the proposed Florida statute, service providers may well dispense with any level of review or editorial moderation to avoid potential liability," Walters said in a legal memorandum in March. "This would result in the presumably unintended consequence of permitting the publication of widespread, un-moderated content on social networking sites throughout the nation."

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