Lawmakers debate whether ‘revenge porn’ is a felony

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island lawmakers are debating a bill that would make the posting of so-called “revenge porn” online a felony.

“In the world of cell phones and the internet, that distribution can change someone’s life forever. And that’s why this should be a crime,” Joee Lindbeck, Special Assistant to the Attorney General said.

Revenge porn is sexually explicit media that is publicly shared online without the consent of the pictured individual.

Supporters of this proposal argue this can have lasting affects professionally, economically and in some cases, it’s used as blackmail.

“Often times someone says, so if my boyfriend doesn’t drop the case, he’s going to put pictures of me up, so I’m going to have to drop the case because I can’t have those pictures getting out. I’ll lose my job, I’ll lose my family,” Rachel Orsinger, Manager of Government Relations for RI Coalation for Domestic Violence said.

While the ACLU does not oppose the intent of the legislation, it argues the bill lacks specific requirements.

“I guess normally, taking photos of a person nude is a violation of privacy but it’s hard to use that term when the initial action was in fact done consensually,” said Steven Brown, the Executive Director of ACLU.

If the bill were to pass, those found guilty could face up to three years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

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