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Illinois Lawmakers take Aim at Revenge Porn

February 22nd, 2014 at 12:03 pm

social media & Revenge PornThe increased and widespread use of technology and social media has brought up a whole new host of issues regarding conduct online. While we still struggle to define appropriate online behavior in some aspects, it can be argued that perhaps the law is struggling to keep up with actions that occur on the web. When discussing the damaging effects of online behavior, we often hear key words such as “cyber bullying” and “sexting,” but what it really comes down to may be described as harassment in the legal arena.

What is Revenge Porn?

Lawmakers in Illinois are taking notice and taking action to address these problems. According to an article recently published by the Chicago Tribune, the state is taking steps to give victims of revenge porn an outlet in court. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, revenge porn refers to the act of an individual posting an inappropriate photo or video of their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend online as a way to get back at them after the failure of the relationship.

Proposed Law

Lawmakers in Illinois are trying to prevent such an embarrassing event by proposing a new measure that would make it illegal to post such content on the internet without the consent of the subject of the photo or video. Senator Michael Hastings, who is sponsoring the proposal, compared the publishing of such explicit material to harassment, and said it was the worst kind of cyber bullying.

Proponents say the law is necessary because current Illinois statutory law fails to provide criminal sanctions as a consequence for such behavior. The state’s statutes do not protect the victims of such crime, who most likely consented to the photo or video initially, as the image was recorded in the context of a private, trusting relationship.

The proposed law would make it a felony to post nude and sexually explicit images of another party without their permission to do so. In addition, under the law, it would be a crime to request a fee in order to remove such images from a website. The penalties associated with the law would include a maximum of three years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine. However, judges would maintain discretion to order a lesser sentence if they thought doing so was appropriate.

Opposition

Those who are opposed to the law argue that making such action a criminal offense would infringe on the constitutional right to free speech. Specifically, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois takes the position that the state’s civil laws may be more appropriate to address such behavior, and should be considered as a solution to the issue before the activity is made a crime under state criminal law.

Criminal law and procedure may change more than the average public person is aware. That is why engaging the services of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Illinois is so important. Contact us today if you have been charged with a crime, and let us protect your rights.

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