Florida Senator to Reintroduce 'Revenge Porn' Bill

Dec 2, 2013 4:30 PM PST

MIAMI — Seminole County State Sen. David Simmons is planning to introduce a new anti-revenge porn bill for next year’s legislative session that begins in March.

He proposed a similar bill last year, but it stalled and ultimately died before the senate’s adjournment.

"It's the ability of a person to literally destroy another person by publication that can go all over the world," Simmons said about revenge porn. "That's a lot of power that's given to an individual to make some really bad decisions, destroy their lives and humiliate the other person."

Adult industry attorney Larry Walters noted at the time of the last bill's death that Florida's proposal appeared to be both vague and overbroad, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Mary Ann Franks, a University of Miami law school professor, is drafting model legislation for Simmons to consider, although the two disagree on a significant point. Simmons wants to criminalize nonconsensual image posting only when there's an intent to harass or do harm to ensure the protection of the First Amendment; Franks believes the intent is inconsequential, arguing that the victim is harmed regardless of the motive.

A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union sided with Simmons, saying that the bill would need to be "very narrowly drawn" to be approved by the ACLU.

Franks recently announced that she is also working with an as-yet unnamed member of Congress to hack out a federal revenge porn law. She told news outlets that a federal law would prevent webmasters and Internet providers from claiming immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

New Jersey acted as trailblazer for the campaign against revenge porn, making it a felony in 2004. California recently followed suit when Gov. Jerry Brown approved a bill that designated it as misdemeanor offense. Now similar legislation is being drafted in New York, a Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland and abroad.

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