Magazine article State Legislatures

Fighting Revenge Porn

Magazine article State Legislatures

Fighting Revenge Porn

Article excerpt

The damage a private photo can do once it's posted on the Internet, the embarrassment and distress it can cause the victim, and the challenge it can be to remove it highlight just how horrible "revenge porn" can be.

In April, Kevin Christopher Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years in custody after being convicted on identity theft and extortion charges in connection with a pair of websites he operated. One site displayed naked and sexually explicit pictures, mostly of women, posted by angry former romantic partners. When people requested that pictures be removed, they were directed to another website that charged up to $350 to take the photos down. Bollaert was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and $15,000 to each of his victims. After Bollaert was charged, but before his conviction, California enacted legislation criminalizing the distribution of revenge porn if it causes the victim serious emotional distress.

Since 2013, about half the states have enacted laws that, generally, criminalize the unauthorized distribution of sexually explicit images of another person with the intent to embarrass, harass or frighten that person. The laws vary in their details and in the penalties imposed. Without specific laws against the practice, victims are limited to pursuing stalking or harassment charges, filing a civil action or registering for copyright protection of the photos, all of which can be difficult to achieve. …

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