State Sen. Joseph Griffo has joined in proposing legislation that would criminalize “revenge porn,” the non-consensual disclosure of sexually explicit photographs of another person.
The legislation would make “revenge porn” a class A misdemeanor that could be punished with jail time and a $30,000 fine, Griffo, R-Rome, and state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, D-Bayside, stated Friday in a released statement.
In an era of text messaging, social networking and emailing, the release states, it is becoming increasingly more common for people in intimate relationships to share pictures with each other, some of which may be sexually explicit in nature. Unfortunately, recipients of these images have the ability to widely disseminate the photos on the Internet.
These photographs have extensive negative effects, including damaging future intimate relationships and hindering educational and employment opportunities, the statement says. Also, there have been instances where victims were routinely threatened with sexual assault, stalked, harassed, or fired from jobs.
“This so-called phenomenon of ‘cyber-revenge’ is a tawdry form of exploitation,” Griffo said. “From what we know, the majority of its victims are women who don’t know that their images and likenesses has been bartered and sold over the Internet.”
Criminalization of such actions is preferable to civil lawsuits by victims, Griffo states, because civil litigation does not deter those who upload or disclose new images after a lawsuit has ended.
Mary Anne Franks, associate professor at the University of Miami School of Law, who helped draft the legislation, stated, “This bill sends the strong message that New York will not tolerate this devastating form of virtual sexual assault. Additionally, this bill demonstrates that it is possible to clearly prohibit a narrow category of malicious conduct while respecting legitimate First Amendment concerns.”