Bill criminalizing “revenge porn” signed into law

DOVER – Gov. Jack Markell today signed legislation from Rep. Andria Bennett to criminalize intimate partner harassment in Delaware and establish penalties for distributing so-called “revenge porn.”

House Bill 260 makes it illegal to disseminate video or photos of a person who is naked or engaged in sexual acts without his or her consent and would expand the existing crime of violation of privacy to include intimate partner harassment.

According to the proposal, a person who disseminates a visual depiction of a nude or partially nude person or a person who is engaging in a sexual act would be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. That charge can be increased to a Class G felony if the photo or video was originally obtained without the victim’s consent, is distributed for profit or is paired with information identifying the person.

“Recent events in the news, like the twitter-purge hashtage that went viral a couple of weeks ago, show us just how widespread this problem is, and how damaging it can be to the victims – especially young women, those most likely to be victimized by this crime,” said Rep. Bennett, D-Dover.

“And in the case we've read about from Texas, the woman who suffered through a Facebook revenge-porn smear was all but powerless to get Facebook to do anything to help her. Right now, she's doing the only thing she can, using her own money and time to sue Facebook and the person who victimized her for civil damages,” Rep. Bennett added. “Perpetrators of this crime and the websites that enable them need to be held responsible in our criminal justice system first.”

According to advocacy group End Revenge Porn, one in 10 ex-partners threatens to expose risqué photos online, and 60 percent of them follow through on that threat. More than half of victims have had personal information posted with photos or videos. Ninety percent of revenge porn victims are women. Nearly half of all victims say they have been harassed or stalked online by people who have seen their material.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed legislation creating a similar crime of intimate partner harassment. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 11 other states have acted to criminalize revenge porn so far this year.

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