House Introduces Anti-Revenge Porn Bill

BY TRONE DOWD

The New York City Council recently made national news by passing a bill that would make the publication of revenge porn a punishable offense and now legislators in Washington are throwing their weight behind a similar bill on the federal level.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) announced on Wednesday that he and his House colleagues have introduced the Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment Act (ENOUGH Act). According to a joint statement from numerous congress members, the bill would end any tolerance for the use of revenge porn by ensuring that the “Department of Justice has an appropriate and effective tool to address these serious privacy violations” and “[establish] federal criminal liability for individuals who share private, explicit images without consent.”

“In this digital age, people can become victims of sexual harassment in an instant, turning their whole lives upside down,” Meeks said. “Four years ago, Rep. Jackie Speier and I first began working on federal legislation to address the problem of non-consensual pornography. Since then, 35 states have enacted statutes to combat this heinous practice. Statutes differ from state to state and, unfortunately, the adoption of such laws has not been ubiquitous. It is, therefore, up to congress to step in and enact a federal law finally criminalizing nonconsensual pornography.”

The bill would also “strike an effective balance between protecting the victims of these serious privacy violations and ensuring that vibrant online speech is not burdened.” This means it would have to be proven that the accused party was aware that the published material was harmful to the victim. It would also have to be proven that an image held no value in being released to the general public.The bill is supported by such tech giants as Facebook and Twitter as well as numerous law enforcement, family and women’s rights organizations.

“Law enforcement organizations, women’s rights groups, family issues organizations, technology companies and academics all agree: the victims of ‘revenge porn,’ ‘sextortion’ and other forms of heinous nonconsensual pornography deserve a federal fix,” Meeks said. “This act would not only establish criminal punishment for these serious privacy violations, but would also do so in specific and narrow ways that would respect the First Amendment and civil liberties. In our digital world, it is crucial we enact new laws that both protect our rights as citizens and the safety of our private content.”

Last week, the PRESS of Southeast Queens reported that the New York City Council unanimously passed a bill sponsored by Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) that would make revenge porn punishable by up to a year in prison, a $1000 fine or both. State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) led the same effort on a state level, but was met with opposition.

Reach reporter Trone Dowd via email at tdowd@queenspress.com or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 123.

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