.

'Revenge Porn' Bill Passes Through House, Moves on to Senate

The bill would make maliciously posting sexually explicit images on the Internet a crime.

Posting photographs of an ex may become a misdemeanor. (Credit: Joliet Patch)
Posting photographs of an ex may become a misdemeanor. (Credit: Joliet Patch)
By Melanie Balakit, CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

A bill that would make it a crime to maliciously post sexually explicit images on the Internet without the subject’s consent passed unanimously through the Maryland House of Delegates Friday. The measure, known as the "revenge porn" bill, will now move forward to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

“I call it the dark-side of technology,” said Delegate Luiz Simmons, D-Montgomery, who co-sponsored the bill with Delegate Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County. The bill had 44 other sponsors in the House.

"People break in phones or computers and steal these photos, or have photos and understand that they are private, and post them to the Internet anyways," Simmons said.

The bill would make maliciously posting sexually explicit images on the Internet without the subject’s consent a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Simmons said that people, mostly women, are put into difficult situations when they are threatened with the possibility that their photos would be posted online.

“The bill would deter cyber criminals,” said Simmons, referring to people who threaten others with posting sexually explicit photos online.

Sexually explicit photos are often shared with an intimate partner, according to a legislative analysis of the bill. The recipient can post the photos online after the relationship ends. Victims can face difficulty pursuing criminal charges because the photos were shared willingly.

Annmarie Chiarini became a victim of revenge porn when her ex-boyfriend posted explicit photos of her online to intentionally harm her. Chiarini is now an advocate for Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the issue of online harassment.

"I could have lost my job, my home, custody of my children, but the person who did this to me is still living his life," Chiarini testified last month, according to the House Judiciary Committee video of the hearing. The Towson woman is a single mother who works at a community college as an English professor.

Chiarini said when the incident happened, she received no support from family or friends. She even attempted suicide.

It’s also difficult to pursue criminal charges against websites that publish sexually explicit photos without the subject’s consent. Under the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996, these websites are not legally responsible for the content because they received it from a third-party source, according to the analysis of the bill.

"Posting an explicit photo is like an eternal stigma,” said Simmons. “Once the photo is out there, it’s out there for the whole world—there’s no effective way to get them down," he said.

If passed, Maryland would become the third state to specifically ban revenge porn, following California and New Jersey. Similar legislation has been introduced in at least three other states.
Colleen March 03, 2014 at 11:05 AM
I think the point that is being missed is that this does not always stem from private photos shared in a relationship. There are many, many instances where hackers break into a woman's phone or computer and post the photos online in an attempt to brand the woman a "whore" etc etc. Read this article for a frightening first hand account of this kind of activity: http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/charlotte-laws-hunter-moore-erin-brockovich-revenge-porn. James Freeman's comment above demonstrates the stigma and misconceptions surrounding this violation of privacy issue.
Colleen March 03, 2014 at 11:20 AM
Sorry, I should add to the above that also, as demonstrated in the article I linked to, that the women targeted have not necessarily even taken inappropriate or sexually explicit photos on themselves. Instead, innocuous images are manipulated for the purposes of these cyber criminals. Also, the images are posted with the women's personal data including where she works and lives, in an attempt to encourage stalking and harassment.
Steven Spiegel March 03, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Mr Burton thanks for letting me know about how those crocked feed the children company's work. I have never believed in sending money overseas until we have our own children feed . You sound like a very wise person, and I appreciatehh
Chuck Burton March 03, 2014 at 12:10 PM
What a woman (or a man, for that matter) does, or as Colleen indicates, doesn't do, but is falsely branded as doing, is a personal matter, and if someone else makes it public he or she should be heavily penalized. He or she is worse than slime.
Steve S. March 03, 2014 at 02:03 PM
Colleen, Amen to the hacker angle. Try to prosecute me based on something that appears to have originated from my e-mail account. Is it not possible that a hacker was involved? A 10 year old unlicensed attorney could successfully defend me in one of these cases.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »