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New York Bans Revenge Porn Website

• October 18, 2013

More and more lawmakers are taking notice of the problems posed by “revenge porn” sites. California recently passed its revenge porn criminalization law. Now New York is stepping up to consider a proposal which would use the California law as a model while attempting to close some of SB-255’s most glaring loopholes.

Porn Ban

Like mugshot websites, revenge porn websites claim to provide a service. Like mugshot websites, their business model is one of extortion.

Unlike mugshot websites, however, revenge porn websites add an element of endangerment. Victims aren’t just humiliated. They often face a flood of rape threats and death threats as well.

The primary loophole that New York lawmakers will target is the sharing of “selfies.” California law excludes them, but The Guardian reports that The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative has found “that 80% of revenge porn victims had taken the photo or video themselves.” Often, this is done in the context of a long-distance relationship, and there is an expectation of privacy.

The Week speculates that revenge porn laws could “sweep the nation.” And First Amendment concerns could be less and less of a concern for states that want to put these kinds of protections in place, simply because they aren’t necessarily as applicable as many have imagined them to be.

[University of Miami School of Law Professor Mary Anne Franks] said the key to overcoming these obstacles is not working around the First Amendment, but rather to get people to “acknowledge the contextual nature of consent when it comes to sex.”

She said people understood, for example, that when you give a waiter your credit card in a restaurant, that doesn't mean you've given the waiter permission to go shopping with it. Or, as the outrage over the National Security Agency’s snooping shows, “Using an Internet search engine doesn't mean you've consented to handing over your personal information to the government.”

It’s too soon to tell if any revenge porn law will be successful at curbing this horrid phenomenon. While it is good to watch these developments, most victims will need to take their reputation back into their own hands long before any legislative debate.

Fortunately, reputation management professionals can still get this destructive content removed or buried in spite of weak legal protections. An act of love shouldn't destroy anyone’s life, so we’re here to help until the wheels of justice speed up a bit.