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Bill Introduced to Stop ‘Revenge Porn’

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is spearheading a bill that goes after those who maliciously expose private explicit images of others in acts of “revenge porn” or “sextortion.”

Fellow Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) joined Harris in introducing the Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment (ENOUGH) Act of 2017 on Tuesday, Nov. 28, a bipartisan legislation that aims to stem an increasingly thorny issue among social media users.

“Perpetrators of exploitation who seek to humiliate and shame their victims must be held accountable,” Harris said. “It is long past time for the federal government to take action to give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on these crimes.”

Speier previously introduced a version of the bill in the 114th Congress, the Intimate Privacy Protection Act of 2016.

“For victims of nonconsensual pornography, technology today makes it possible to destroy a person’s life with the click of a button or a tap on a cellphone,” Speier said. “The damage caused by these attacks can crush careers, tear apart families and, in the worst cases, has led to suicide.

“What makes these acts even more despicable is that many predators have gleefully acknowledged that the vast majority of their victims have no way to fight back,” she said. “Even in states that have laws on the books, the average person can’t afford to take on these predators in civil courts.

“Worse are the numerous victims who have mustered the courage and strength to pursue criminal charges, only to learn there is no law that protects them,” Speier said. “The ENOUGH Act will fix this gaping hole in our legal system.”

The Act would ensure that the Department of Justice has an appropriate and effective tool for addressing serious privacy violations; Narrowly establish federal criminal liability for individuals who share private, explicit images without consent; and strike a balance between protecting the victims of these serious privacy violations and ensuring that vibrant online speech is not burdened.

According to the bill a prosecution under the ENOUGH Act would have to prove that the defendant knew that the victim expected the image to remain private and that its sharing could cause harm to the victim.

A prosecution would also have to prove that no reasonable person would consider the shared image to touch on a matter of public concern.

“We are grateful to the ENOUGH Act’s bipartisan, bicameral supporters for protecting the victims of ‘revenge porn,’ ‘sextortion’ and other online crimes,” said Rebecca O’Connor, vice president of Public Policy, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. “With sexual predators increasingly turning to the internet to do harm, we need effective tools for addressing these serious privacy violations. We look forward to working with Congress to help pass this bill.”

William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said that such online privacy violations exponentially and disproportionately affect women and minors.

“While 35 states have enacted statutes in this area, federal intervention is necessary to provide complete and consistent coverage across state lines,” he said. “This important bill would narrowly establish federal criminal liability for individuals who share private, explicit images without consent, while including civil liberty safeguards to ensure that only those who share with malicious intent are liable.”

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Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s millennial publication. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, she attended Howard University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. A proud southern girl, her lineage can be traced to the Gullah people inhabiting the low-country of South Carolina. The history of the Gullah people and the Geechee Dialect can be found on the top floor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In her spare time she enjoys watching either college football or the Food Channel and experimenting with make-up. When she’s not writing professionally she can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com. E-mail: Swright@washingtoninformer.com Social Media Handles: Twitter: @dreamersexpress, Instagram: @Sarafinasaid, Snapchat: @Sarafinasaid

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