Lawmakers propose ramping up protection on ‘revenge porn’

SHARE Lawmakers propose ramping up protection on ‘revenge porn’

SPRINGFIELD—To prevent spiteful people from spreading intimate photos and videos of their ex-lovers online, a legislative push is afoot to ban so-called “revenge porn.”

Senate Bill 2694, proposed by Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Orland Hills, would make it a Class 4 felony to post sexually explicit photos or videos to the Internet without the permission of those featured. Offenders could be punished by up to three years in jail and up to a $25,000 fine.

Under current law, publishing intimate photos and videos is illegal only if the subject is a minor. So revenge porn victims above the age of 18 often resort to paying a fee to have the explicit material removed from a website. Hastings’ bill would make it a crime to maintain such a site.

“It’s extortion, it’s wrong and it’s a growing problem,” Hastings said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, this happens daily to unsuspecting people who oftentimes use technology without fully realizing the consequences.”

Hastings said the material released online—which can include names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mail addresses along with the risqué shots—often leads to cyberbullying and cyberstalking.

MORE: Phil Kadners pushes to make revenge porn a crime

“This can be extremely devastating and humiliating to an unsuspecting victim,” Hastings said. “There are reported instances where the victims are forced to change their names and even move to escape the barrage of unwanted harassment.”

Similarly, House Bill 4320, proposed by Scott Drury, D-Highwood, would make it a Class 4 felony to sell sexual images or to distribute them on the computer without the consent of those shown. Furthermore, if those images featured a minor or a “profoundly mentally retarded” person, Drury’s legislation would make the act a Class 1 felony, punishable by up to 15 years and up to a $250,000 fine.

MORE: Revenge porn victims press for new laws

If these measures pass, Illinois would join two states that have outlawed revenge porn: New Jersey and California. Currently, lawmakers in several states, including Maryland, Wisconsin and New York, are considering bills that would criminalize the practice.

For more on revenge porn, go to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative website: http://www.cybercivilrights.org/

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