'Revenge Porn' Law Signed in Calif.: Jail for Exes Who Post Indecent Photos of Former Partners Online

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    (Photo: REUTERS/Max Whittaker)
    California Governor Jerry Brown leaves a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California, January 5, 2012.
By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
October 2, 2013|1:54 pm

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday that bans "revenge porn" in the state, making it illegal for disgruntled exes to upload indecent photographs of their former partners to the Internet without the victim's permission. The new law makes such a practice a misdemeanor charge and can result in six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Senate Bill 255, one of 36 bills signed by Gov. Brown on Tuesday, makes it illegal to upload identifiable, indecent photos to the internet without permission of the photographed or for the purpose of causing emotional distress to the victim. The bill's text states that causing someone emotional distress by an indecent internet photo would constitute "disorderly conduct", and therefore the perpetrator should be "subject to that same punishment."

"Until now, there was no tool for law enforcement to protect victims," the bill's author, Sen. Anthony Cannella (R), said in a statement, as reported by the Associated Press. "Too many have had their lives upended because of an action of another that they trusted." Cannella also said that the issue of "revenge porn" has become more prominent in the social media era, where social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are easily accessible to many.

California is the second U.S. state to illegalize the act. New Jersey has a similar law that makes uploading revenge porn to the internet a felony. The issue has also been brought up in other states, such as Arizona, where recently the local CBS5 affiliate wrote a piece on women who have been victims of revenge porn. Similarly, Holly Jacobs, a victim of revenge porn, started the website EndRevengePorn.org to bring attention to the issue and to start a petition drive.

"It's like, you know, you're sitting at the bottom of a really long well and you're screaming at the top of your lungs and no one can help you," one such victim, called Jenny, told CBS5 in Phoenix. The article adds that since California passed its revenge porn law, many are hoping other states will follow suit.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposed California's revenge porn bill, arguing that the text was too vague and the law could end up encroaching on free speech rights. Also those opposing the law argue that it wades into the "murky areas of the Internet and image ownership," according to the LA Times. The issue of free speech rights serves as one of the main reasons similar bills have not been passed in more states.

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There are still active websites encouraging disgruntled exes to post photos of their former partners as a form of revenge. The website MyEx.com, for example, encourages users to "get the dirt before you get hurt or submit your ex or your favorite celebrities or athletes." Another website, Is Anyone Up, which no longer operates, allowed users to upload indecent photos of their ex-partners or those who participated in sexting with them.

 

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