Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

It’s Finally Illegal for Californians to Post Revenge Porn Online

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Finally, it’s illegal for Californians to post pictures of you naked online without your consent.

Now posting “revenge porn”—typically the purview of seedy, spurned exes—can earn Golden State residents up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Sites specifically devoted to posting pictures paired with real-life names and Facebook profiles—often selfies published without their subjects’ consent—soared in popularity in late 2011. The most prominent, Is Anyone Up, shuttered after its creator was fined$250,000 and stabbed in the arm with a pen.

The revenge porn bill, written by senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) and signed into law Tuesday, makes it a misdemeanor to record or photograph “the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person,” and then, provided the two parties had some understanding it was meant to be kept private, publish that content “with the intent of causing serious emotional stress.”

But it’s a tricky subject. While few would argue that there isn’t something wrong with showing the whole world an intimate picture intended for an audience of one, some have argued that such a law brushes up against First Amendment free speech rights.

Other states, like Florida and Missouri, have rejected similar laws over free speech concerns. California only has one partner in standing against revenge porn: New Jersey, where it’s a felony.

Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Nate Cardozo, for instance,argued in June that the bill “also criminalizes the victimless instances.”

“And that’s a problem with the First Amendment,” he said. “Whenever you try and criminalize speech, you have to do so in the most narrowly tailored way possible.”

By Kevin Collier | H/T Atlantic Wire | Photo via Flickr (remix by Fernando Alfonso III)

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