California 'Revenge Porn' Bill Introduced
SACRAMENTO — Legislation introduced in California on Tuesday would target "revenge porn" websites, punishing convicted operators with one-year jail sentences and imposing fines of $1,000.
SB 255, introduced by state Sen. Anthony Cannella, would amend Section 653.2 of the Penal Code and make it a crime to "cause substantial emotional distress or humiliation" to others by distributing over the Internet nude images of them along with personal identifying information.
The bill is similar to ones recently introduced in Florida's Legislature, but both revenge porn bills died in the state Senate and House of Representatives on Friday.
Jeff Maceda, a spokesman for Cannella, told XBIZ on Thursday that California's SB 255 was modeled after the Florida proposal.
"But SB 255 would not make [revenge porn] a felony like in Florida," Maceda said. "It would treat the offense as a misdemeanor with one-year sentences and not a third-degree felony."
Maceda noted there was talk of making revenge porn a felony in California; however the current fiscal climate in the Legislature makes that a challenge.
"There is worry that there is overcrowding in our jail system, and the bill was designed as the best way to discourage revenge porn," he said.
Industry attorney Larry Walters told XBIZ that the same concerns that caused the Florida bill to fail should dictate a similar bill in California.
"While well-intentioned, it criminalizes a form of speech, and may create a situation where erotic content producers will have to pay twice for images or video that is already the subject of a valid model release, just to avoid liability under this new wave of legislation," Walters said Thursday. "With some reasoned input from the online service provider industry, a viable piece of legislation, imposing civil (as opposed to criminal) remedies could be created.
"But instead, these state legislatures want to take a sledge hammer to solve a problem that requires scalpel precision."
Revenge porn is a recent phenomenon and online category where website operators post nude or erotic images of women or men without their consent.
Some revenge porn sites include actual email addresses, cellphone numbers, links to Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn profiles, and residential addresses displayed for all to see.