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Victim of 'Revenge Porn' Says It's Like Being Raped; State Law-Makers Move to Stop It

( [email protected] ) Apr 25, 2014 06:19 PM EDT
Victim of Revenge Porn says it's like being raped; State Law-Makers Move to Stop It
Holly Jacobs started endrevengeporn.org after being victimized Fox News

Just over a half of the US states are joining the goal of stopping what is coming to be known as "revenge porn", where one person post X-rated material online meant to embarrass or blackmail another.

According to Fox News, Colorado is the latest state to consider legislation to outlaw the deceitful practice.  A committee meeting is planned for Thursday to look at criminalizing revenge pornography. If successful, the bill would make it a misdemeanor to publish these kinds of images. The proposal would make it a misdemeanor for adults to publish material that could cause "serious emotional distress." Offenders would also be fined at least $10,000 and ordered to remove the images from the Internet.

During the 2014 legislative session, anti-revenge porn bills were introduced or pending in 27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far, legislation to outlaw the practice has passed this year in Idaho, Virginia and Wisconsin.

California and New Jersey already have laws outlawing revenge porn, and last year California prosecutors shut down a revenge porn website.  

"This website published intimate photos of unsuspecting victims," Kamala Harris, California attorney general, said in a statement, "and turned their public humiliation and betrayal into a commodity with the potential to devastate lives."

The owners of the site in California made money by selling access to the material, and charged people to have it removed from the site, as well, according to court documents.

Not everyone wants to pass the new laws quickly though, and think the issue needs to be approached with caution.  

"This is a delicate issue," Lee Rowland of the American Civil Liberties Union, told NPR recently. "The ACLU is concerned both with the protection of privacy and free speech rights."

"The reality is that revenge porn laws tend to criminalize the sharing of nude images that people lawfully own," says Rowland, a lawyer with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. "That treads on very thin ice constitutionally."

The topic is getting some attention among national law makers on the federal level, too.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., would like to see federal penalties for the non-consensual online distribution of lewd content by jilted exes.

 Holly Jacobs, an advocate for revenge porn victims, told FoxNews.com last year that find your self the victim of revenge porn, it is similar to being raped.  

"It's all about the guy having control over the woman and exploiting her in a sexual way -- the same way real-life rape does that. It violates you over and over again," she said.

Jacobs  was a victim in 2009, when she found naked photos of herself on one of these websites. Jacobs later created endrevengeporn.org and formed the group Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), where she serves as CEO and executive director.

According to endrevengeporn.org, 90 percent of revenge porn victims are women, 49 percent said they have been harassed or stalked online by users who saw the offensive material and 93 percent said they have suffered significant emotional distress due to being a victim.