California bans revenge porn

Possible jail time for posting compromising photos without permission

By Natasha Lennard
October 2, 2013 9:38PM (UTC)
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One of the nastiest Internet trends of recent years is now officially illegal in the state of California. California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill outlawing so-called revenge porn -- making it now a misdemeanor to post identifiable naked pictures of someone else online without their permission and with the intent to cause emotional distress or humiliation, with a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.

While a possible important protection for victims, free speech advocates are concerned the law sets a troubling precedent for stifling online content.

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The AP reported:

Before the criminal law was enacted, California allowed victims to sue their virtual assailants, but that is an expensive and time-consuming option.

The American Civil Liberties Union had opposed the bill, arguing it might restrict free speech rights, which has been a concern in other states as well.

Florida lawmakers rejected a similar bill this year after First Amendment concerns surfaced there. Last year, the Missouri Supreme Court cited concerns about free speech in striking down part of a 2008 law enacted after a teenager who was teased online committed suicide.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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California Cyber Bullying Internet Nudity Porn Revenge Porn