Lawmakers take steps to stop revenge porn

June 4, 2013 7:15:27 PM PDT
When relationships sour sometimes couples turn to revenge. In this day and age, that sometimes means intimate videos they record can then be posted online -- a practice called revenge porn.

Hollie Troups of Texas had semi-nude photos uploaded onto Texxxan.com by a former boyfriend and was embarrassed. A friend found them.

"It's pictures of explicit photos that people posted and she said 'you're on there,'" Troups said.

The Senate Public Safety Committee has unanimously approved a bill that would criminalize revenge porn, making it a misdemeanor for those who electronically distribute photos of a sexual nature without the other person's consent with the intent of harassing or humiliating. Offenders can be jailed up to one year and fined $1,000.

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, is leading the effort because the threat of a civil lawsuit doesn't seem to be enough of a deterrent.

"They are concerned about going to jail, so hopefully this raises the bar enough where people will think twice before engaging in this behavior because it ruins people's lives," he said.

But First Amendment groups have some concerns. The Electronic Frontier Foundation agrees the revenge porn problem needs to be addressed, just not the way Cannella is going about it.

"It also criminalizes victimless instances and that's a problem with the First Amendment; whenever you try to criminalize speech, you have to do so with the most narrowly tailored way possible," spokesperson Nate Cordozo said.

Victims just don't want their private pictures to go public.

"I just can't imagine why someone would do this to anyone," Hollie Troups said.

The Cannella measure seems to be gaining bi-partisan momentum. While other states do have similar proposals, only New Jersey has a law in place making revenge porn illegal.

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