Revenge Porn Could Cost You $10,000

Snapchat phone on bedI heard a story from a friend of mine who works at a middle school in Virginia. The tweens had been, ill-advisedly, sending risqué photos to each other on Snapchat (a phone app that destroys photos a few seconds after they’re viewed). But the photos aren’t always destroyed. One of the recipients of a snapchat took a screenshot of a photo and sent it to most of the members of the kid’s class. In Virginia, this is not just an act of cyberbullying; this is revenge porn, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

The North Carolina General Assembly is currently considering passing a law of its own: House Bill 792, the Privacy/Protection from Revenge Postings. The bill makes it a felony to disclose images which have a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” with financial dispensations awarded to the victim up to $10,000, punitive damages, and attorney fees. Sixteen states currently have enforceable revenge porn laws.

Representative Rob Bryan, one of the sponsors of the bill, talks about why the law is needed: “In the online world, it’s a lot easier for people to post things that may not otherwise be a crime.” This law would go a long way toward providing legal recourse for people if their privacy and rights are violated.

For example, Bryan says, “Some couples may have taken some video or taken some pictures that were expected to be kept confidential. […] But if they end up on the Internet to get back at someone, I think that’s not right.”

The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV) has HB 792 on its radar because current state law is “inadequate to hold offenders accountable” when victims are terrorized or abused by the knowing disclosure or dissemination of intimate parts or sexual acts without the consent of the victim.

Alex Miller of the NCCADV states that the bill is “an important first step” but suggests that there are elements still not covered by the law, such as when images are stolen and posted online.

We definitely need a state law that makes revenge porn a punishable offense, as right now anyone can post anything online and there is no legal way to punish them in NC.

More than a state law, however, what we really need is a federal law that makes revenge porn illegal. Representative Jackie Speier (D-California) plans to bring a law to Capitol Hill this year that would criminalize it. “Today it’s possible to ruin someone’s life with the click of a button, by publishing another person’s private images without their consent,” Rep. Speier said. “Our laws haven’t yet caught up with this crime.”

In the meantime, HB 792 is working its way through the General Assembly. Contact your lawmakers to show your support (or concern) while you can.

MelissaMelissa Geil is a freelance writer and English teacher. Although originally from New York, she moved to North Carolina the first time for college (go Tar Heels), and now she is back to stay. She enjoys reading, hiking, and gallivanting around the triangle with her family.




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