Rhode Island Passes Revenge Porn Bill

May 21, 2014 8:00 AM PST

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island Senate has approved a revenge porn bill that would make it a felony to post sexually explicit photos of a person online without permission.

Senators approved the bill 33-0 that would carry a maximum possible penalty of three years in prison, up to a $3,000 fine, or both.

Under the new law, a person would be guilty of “unauthorized dissemination of indecent material” when using a device to “capture, record, or store visual images of another person 18 years of age or older engaged in sexually explicit conduct or of the intimate areas of another person” when that person “would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Democrat Sen. Erin Lynch sponsored the legislation. The lawmaker said tougher penalties might make someone think twice before they post such pictures.

“Posting explicit photos of a former partner without that person’s consent is extremely hurtful and embarrassing. Penalties need to be strong to ensure that people think twice before attempting to degrade an individual in this way,” Lynch said in a statement. She described revenge porn as a “new kind of virtual assault” that “disproportionately targets women.”

The legislation was first proposed by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s office a few years ago as part of a package of Internet safety bills.

Kilmartin told the Providence Journal, “The latest phenomenon of individuals posting intimate photos and videos on ‘revenge porn’ sites with the mission to embarrass exes takes the exploitation and degradation of people, especially women, to a new level of depravity.”

He added, “Passage of this legislation will give victims some comfort that the perpetrators will be held accountable.”

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