N.Y. Senators Want To Join the Fight Against 'Revenge Porn'

NEW YORK — A group of New York lawmakers, motivated by the anti-revenge porn laws passed in California and New Jersey, have drafted similar legislation to combat the new form of virtual harassment within state bounds.

If passed, those convicted of distributing explicit photos of a person without their consent will face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or one year in jail.  

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein, a Democrat from Bayside, and Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, an upstate Republican, have issued a press release detailing a framework for the new measure. Their version ups the maximum fine to $30,000.

“Disseminating sexual explicit images that were shared with an expectation of privacy can cause lasting damage to victims and should be a crime,” Braunstein said. “Passage of this legislation would make it clear that New Yorkers will not allow this type of harassment to continue. With the proliferation of cell phones and social networking, this problem will only get worse if we do not take immediate action.”

He notes that, at present, New York residents victimized by revenge porn have few and ineffective options — namely, to sue the person distributing the photos for invasion of privacy.

“Criminalization is preferable to civil suits by victims because civil suits do not deter those who upload or disclose new images after a civil suit has ended. Furthermore, a lengthy trial is emotionally exhausting and prohibitively expensive,” said Mary Anne Franks, an associate professor of law who helped draft the legislation.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 255 into law just Wednesday, making revenge porn a criminal offense in California. The nation has taken note: in addition to the new anti-revenge porn push in New York, a Pennsylvania state senator announced yesterday that she too plans to strengthen online sexual harassment laws by targeting those responsible for revenge porn.

Hunter Moore, infamous operator of revenge porn site IsAnyoneUp, has posted an antagonistic YouTube clip in response to the recent passage of SB 255.

“Basically, this law doesn’t do shit. I don’t know what people are stoked about because it doesn’t do anything,” he says in the clip. He argues that the Communications Decency Act eliminates site owners’ liability for the content on their site, making it a moot law.    

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