Wisc., Fla. Move 'Revenge Porn' Legislation Forward

Mar 18, 2014 3:15 PM PST

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The legislatures of both Florida and Wisconsin moved forward their states' respective "revenge porn" laws today.

Both bills focus on the same result — to increase penalties where people use the web to spread explicit images, oftentimes accompanied with personal information including addresses and other website linkage.

Florida's bill, SB 532, would make it a second degree misdemeanor to attempt to harass another person by blogging, tweeting or transmitting "a sexually explicit image of that person without his or her consent to a social networking service or website or by means of another electronic medium."

It would be a first-degree misdemeanor if the violator is older than 18 and the victim is younger than 16 years old.

Florida's bill now heads to the House, where lawmakers have until May 2 to act on it.

Adult industry attorney Lawrence Walters told XBIZ on Tuesday that while revenge porn activity is reprehensible, it should be dealt with effectively by the law.

"The Florida Legislature is still debating the nuances of how it will handle revenge porn activity," said Walters of Walters Law Group in Longwood, Fla. "I've had the opportunity to submit comments to the legislators in the state regarding some of the constitutional concerns with these bills, and the recently released staff analysis (see attachment below) confirms that those issues are being considered by the Legislature.

"Importantly, it is not the intent of the proposed laws to hold online service providers liable for revenge porn violations. Limiting the scope of liability to the persons who actually posted the offending content, while protecting be online service providers, strikes and appropriate balance from a Section 230 and free speech standpoint.

"It is my hope that the legislatures in various states considering these bills will focus on enhancing civil penalties as opposed to criminalizing even this offensive form of speech."

Wisconsin's bill, SB 367, passed on a voice vote Tuesday. The piece of legislation must pass Wisconsin's Assembly on Thursday, its final day in session, or it will be die.

Wisconsin's bill would make it a misdemeanor to disseminate a nude picture without the subject's consent, regardless of whether the subject granted permission to capture the image. It would be punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and nine months in jail.

Legislatures in Georgia, Delaware, Arizona, Washington, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island and Maryland have considered implementing similar laws.

California and New Jersey already have enacted revenge porn laws.

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