After Unanimous Vote, New York City Set to Expand “Revenge Porn” Ban

revenge-porn-300x156New York City Council has unanimously passed legislation to ban so-called “revenge porn” in the five boroughs. The bill has a criminal portion that makes revenge porn punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of $1,000, or both. The bill also has a civil portion providing victims with the right to seek injunctions and damages. Still awaiting the Mayor’s signature, Mayor de Blasio has already signaled his willingness to sign the bill into law.

So-called “revenge porn” is when a formerly intimate partner chooses to spread illicit photographs of their former lover without their permission, typically on the internet. The unfortunate phenomenon has taken off in recent years thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, email and picture messaging and, according to CNN, one-in-eight internet users have been the victim of revenge porn. As a result, 38 states and Washington, D.C. ban the cruel form of retribution.

The new law will have both a civil portion which will come into law immediately and a criminal portion which will come into law 60 days later. The law will give individuals permission to seek injunctions against former lovers, as well as seek compensatory and punitive damages against the person. Compensatory damages are a monetary measure of what the person has actually suffered, such as medical bills or lost wages. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are amounts over and beyond what the person has actually suffered. Juries generally award punitive damages to “send a message” to the plaintiff. Victims of revenge porn may also be awarded attorney’s fees.

Eric Rosenbaum, assistant district attorney in Queens, said that the law is long overdue, “For years, prosecutors have been frustrated by our inability to effectively respond to a problem we see with increased regularity. Special victims and computer crimes prosecutors across the city are hopeful that would-be offenders will now be deterred from engaging in this conduct.”

The new city law would expand the current statewide ban on “unlawful surveillance,” signed by Gov. Cuomo in 2014. The law has been used by some victims of “revenge porn” to seek justice in the courts. Unfortunately, the law only criminalizes pictures taken without the permission of those in the photo, whereas Mayor de Blasio’s new law criminalizes pictures disseminated without the permission of those in the photo. In effect, the state law does not protect a person who has taken the images themselves and sent them to a partner – which constitute a majority of revenge porn cases.

Thankfully, Albany may be getting ready to follow in the City’s footsteps. According to CNN, lawmakers in New York’s state capital have been watching the new law and may propose a similar bill during the legislature’s next session.

Source:

http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/16/technology/nyc-revenge-porn-bill/index.html

 

 

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