Mostly Cloudy
60°FMostly CloudyFull Forecast

Letter: Revenge porn laws aim to protect privacy

Published: Monday, March 10, 2014 10:26 p.m. CDT

To the Editor:

In our ever-changing world, lawmakers are playing a game of “catch-up” every day to keep pace with the fast-moving worlds of technology and social media.

One issue making headlines is a cyber trend called “revenge porn.”  This term refers to the malicious posting of private sexual messages, images or videos on a website. New Jersey and California are the only states that have laws punishing the act.

As with most new legislation, those states that are first to pass new laws provide a “road map” for others considering similar legislation.  

California’s “revenge porn law” has been scrutinized by advocates, who feel it does not do enough to protect victims.

Among other things, the law fails to cover “selfies” – pictures or videos taken by the individual themselves – and images obtained through hacking.

Additionally, it includes an intent clause that will no doubt hinder prosecutors, who must prove a defendant’s motive.

Although everyone can agree that victims of this act are traumatized, scrutinized and could likely face emotional, personal and professional losses, opponents argue that society is going too far to legislate yet another area of our lives. They feel that there are already numerous legal alternatives to many of the components of publishing revenge porn. These laws include: extortion, voyeurism, copyright infringement and invasion of privacy. They say this crime is best prosecuted as a civil matter, which would benefit the victim through a settlement and be less threatening to violating our First Amendment Rights.

Illinois is looking to enact similar legislation this year. SB 2694 unanimously passed the Senate and the Illinois House has a similar bill in the form of HB 4320. If passed, posting a nude or sexually explicit picture of another person without their permission would be a felony. Additionally, for those websites who are a part of the problem it will be a crime to charge for removal of these types of explicit photos.

Legislators in states looking to enact similar laws should consider the legal limits and public scrutiny California’s law faced. As technology and society continue to change, so must our laws. But unlike the fast pace of technology and social media, legislators must proceed slowly as they work to develop laws to effectively combat these new threats. These proposed laws will be a significant step in protecting privacy and preventing personal violations in Illinois.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski

R-Belvidere

Get breaking and town-specific news sent to your phone. Sign up for text alerts from the Daily Chronicle.

Watch Now

Player embeded on all DDC instances for analytics purposes.

Pet of the Week: Chip

More videos »

Reader Poll

How many work emails do you receive daily?
Fewer than 15
15 to 30
31 to 50
More than 50