Bill banning 'revenge porn' passes Senate
STATE HOUSE – Acknowledging the growing problem of having lewd and graphic photos and videos posted on the Internet with the intent to embarrass or harm another individual, the Senate today approved legislation that will prohibit the posting of “revenge porn” without the consent of the individual depicted in the images.
The legislation, 2015-S 0625, introduced on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General, was sponsored by Sen. Erin P. Lynch (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) and now heads to the House.
Revenge porn is sexually explicit media that is publicly shared online without the consent of the pictured individual, often uploaded by a former companion or hacker for the purpose of humiliation. The image or video is often accompanied by personal information, including the pictured individual’s name and links to social media sites.
The legislation approved today will prohibit a person from electronically disseminating visual images of another person engaged in sexually explicit conduct or the intimate parts of another person’s body without that person’s consent and where the person had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
A first offense, under the bill, would be a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, the offender would be subject to imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of $1,000, or both. Second and subsequent offenses would be classified as felonies and, upon conviction, a violator would be subject to up to three years in prison, a fine of up to $3,000, or both.
Constitutionally protected activity is not subject to the provision of the legislation. Further, the legislation would not apply to the unauthorized dissemination of indecent material when it is made for the purposes of a criminal investigation that is otherwise lawful; when it is for the purpose of, or in connection with, the reporting of unlawful conduct; when the images involve voluntary exposure in a public or commercial setting, or when the dissemination serves a lawful purpose.
aid Senator Lynch, “It is vitally important that we address this new kind of virtual assault, which disproportionately targets women, and I’m grateful to the Attorney General for helping develop and promote the bill. Once it is law, it is my hope that it will make those posting these kinds of images think twice before invading someone’s privacy in such a degrading manner.”
“The phenomenon of individuals posting intimate photos and videos on ‘revenge porn’ sites with the mission to embarrass exes takes the exploitation and degradation of people, especially women, to a new level of depravity,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “Not only do victims suffer embarrassment and severe emotional distress, it could very well impact their educational and professional opportunities. The images or videos may stay in cyberspace forever, yet victims are left with no recourse to have the images removed or seek justice for themselves. Passage of this legislation will give victims some comfort that the perpetrators will be held accountable.”
Several US states have already passed laws criminalizing revenge porn or have law expressly applicable to revenge porn, including California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Co-sponsoring the Lynch legislation are Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston), Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) and Sen. Paul V. Jabour (D-Dist. 5, Providence).
For more information, contact:
Randall T. Szyba, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903