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‘Revenge Porn’ Now Illegal in California

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California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Tuesday outlawing “revenge porn,” the practice of posting nude pictures of a former sexual partner online without the person’s permission.

The number of websites featuring pictures of naked women posted by bitter or jealous ex-lovers has grown in recent years, as the ease of taking such photos with smartphones and uploading them to the Internet has dramatically increased. But even if a woman discovers a revealing image of herself and asks the site to remove it, the site does not necessarily have to comply. And even if it does, it may not do any good. The photo can spread very quickly to other sites, eventually becoming effectively impossible to fully remove it from the Web.

Prior to the law’s enactment, a victim had limited ways to address the problem, usually resulting in a potentially long and costly lawsuit, if it ever even got that far. State Senator Andrew Cannella, who wrote the bill, addressed that concern in a statement: ”Until now, there was no tool for law enforcement to protect victims. Too many have had their lives upended because of an action of another that they trusted.”

Committing an act of “revenge porn” will now carry a fine of $1,000 and a possible six months in jail, if the law holds up under what will likely be legal challenges. Criminalizing this activity has already run into problems in other states, such as Florida, where a similar bill failed in the legislature due to First Amendment concerns. The ACLU has indicated it may challenge the California law on the grounds that it infringes on people’s free-speech rights.

Holly Jacobs, who started the group End Revenge Porn after she was herself a victim of the practice, worked with Sen. Cannella on crafting the bill. She told Buzzfeed, “I have made every effort to ensure that it is worded in such a way as to provide the appropriate protection to victims while being careful not to impose on First Amendment rights.”

“If this bill ultimately becomes a law,” Jacobs also said, “I am confident and excited about the prospect that other states will follow suit and pass their own bills to outlaw revenge porn.”

[L.A. Times, Daily MailBuzzfeed]

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