U.S. Lawmaker Introduces Federal 'Revenge Porn' Bill

Jul 14, 2016 4:24 PM PST

WASHINGTON — U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier on Thursday introduced the Intimate Privacy Protection Act, a piece of legislation that seeks to outlaw the distribution of nonconsensual sexual photos — known as "revenge porn" — and make the act a federal crime.

“These acts of bullying have ruined careers, families, and even led to suicide,” said Speier, a California Democrat and lead author of the federal bill.

The bill would allow fines and up to five years in prison for posting online or distributing sexually explicit photos or videos with “reckless disregard” for the consent of the subject.

So far, more than 30 states have enacted similar laws in recent years.

Speier’s proposal, which was introduced with support from Facebook and Twitter, exempts such companies as long as they do not promote or solicit revenge porn content. It also has exceptions — material that is in the public interest or that features a person voluntarily posing nude in a public or commercial setting.

In recent years, many online companies have tightened their terms of service and hired reviewers who delete content found to violate terms of service to prohibit revenge porn.

Neil Richards, a privacy law expert at Washington University in St. Louis, told The Source that, “it’s clear that the drafters have thought about [potential] problems and tried to write a law that is broad enough to deal with a wide variety of instances of nonconsensual pornography and downstream users, but which also tries to steer clear of the biggest free-speech problems that a blunt ‘no nonconsensual images or video’ law would create.”

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