Hawaii Makes Revenge Porn a Felony

Jun 23, 2014 7:00 AM PST

HONOLULU — Hawaii has become the 10th state in the nation to pass a law against revenge porn.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law on June 20 that makes it illegal for anyone to record or disseminate images or video or a person in the nude or in sexual conduct without their consent.

“Today the State of Hawaii will have enacted a law which makes it a felony for perpetrators to post unconsented nude or sexual photos of another person on the Internet,” said Rep. John Mizuno who authored the bill. “There is not one scintilla of doubt this new law will save lives.”

The criminalization of revenge porn in Hawaii — a class 5 felony —carries with it a penalty punishable of up to five years in jail.

Mizuno said the law was tough to pass because of free speech issues, but believes that hurting a person’s career or mental state by providing personal information “crosses the line.”

"He or she can be in jail for more than five years, so this is pretty powerful. It's pretty potent, so it will be a strong deterrent for those that want to do something like this," Mizuno said.

Human rights activists claimed victory after the adoption of the law.

"I feel great. It's a huge victory for victims of sexual assault. I think it's important to remember that revenge porn is sexual assault," Kris Coffield of the Imua Alliance told Hawaii News Now.

"Spreading somebody's naked image online for everybody to see without that person's permission is extremely abusive and traumatic for that victim," added Kathryn Xian, of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery.

"Given that the Internet makes the commission of cyber crimes like revenge porn so easy, the number of cases out there is going to far exceed our expectations," Coffield added.

Hawaii joins Arizona, California, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, Idaho, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin as states that have passed revenge porn laws. Idaho and Arizona make it a felony for a first violation; the crime is a felony in Georgia and Utah on the second offense.

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