New 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. Continue reading