Don’t Mess With Your Ex – Revenge Porn Bill Takes Effect in July

Breaking up is hard to do.  But when you add revenge porn to the situation, things can get cruel.  Revenge porn is generally defined as the dissemination of sexually explicit images of an ex-lover without their permission.  Obviously, these images and videos can be emotionally harmful and have devastating effects on a person’s reputation.  These days, images can spread like wildfire through social media, photo sharing, and messaging apps.

Legislation has passed in Virginia to make revenge porn a crime.  Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the bill in March, and the law takes effect in July.  The bill makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to “maliciously” distribute a nude or sexual photograph of another person with intent to “coerce, harass, or intimidate” without a license.  It’s important to note that the bill targets the individual posters and not the websites that serve as hosts.  Many revenge porn websites are federally protected under the Communications Decency Act, Section 230, which prohibits websites from being liable for actions of third parties.

New Jersey and California were the first states to criminalize revenge porn, and many other states have proposed similar legislation.  Though most people sympathize with the victims of revenge porn, some feel that laws banning revenge porn may be unconstitutional under the First Amendment.   Forbes Magazine recently wrote an article asserting that revenge porn laws are not unconstitutional.

The reality is that revenge porn is becoming very common, and so states are acting to protect the victims and their right to privacy.  So the bottom line is don’t mess with your ex – it could land you in jail.

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