New York poised to join 41 states in criminalizing revenge porn

Lawmakers in New York voted to join 41 other states in criminalizing revenge porn Thursday, passing legislation that would make it a misdemeanor to disseminate explicit photos of a person without consent.

The measure would also allow victims to file lawsuits against the person responsible for distributing the photos. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports the bill and is expected to sign it into law. Additionally, it would allow victims to seek a court order to have the images taken down.

During debate in the state Assembly and Senate, supporters argued that criminal penalties are warranted due to the deeply personally and emotionally injurious nature of the offense.

“This violence seeks to cripple the soul,” said Senator James Sanders (D-Queens).

Often, revenge porn involves images originally meant to remain private between two people in a relationship that are disseminated by one partner once the couple splits.

Under the proposed change, someone guilty of the crime could face up to a year in prison.

Debated for years, the bill had been held up over worries from internet companies about their legal culpability under the legislation. The bill passed the Assembly last year but not the Republican-led Senate. This year, with Democrats now in control of the Senate, the legislation passed unanimously in both chambers.

Industry groups said slight changes in the bill addressed their concerns.

Backers of the bill bemoaned the wait, saying revenge porn has only proliferated as texting and social media have grown in use and popularity.

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