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Revenge Porn - Do We Need To Criminalize It?

Oct 29, 2013

I don’t know how familiar my readers are with the concept of “revenge porn” – but it is, apparently, enough of a trend to warrant some states looking in to criminalizing it. But I may be getting ahead of myself. “Revenge porn” is pretty much what it sounds like.  Former lovers with a chip on their shoulder post video taken in happier times. Or in other cases, hackers get the clip and share it with the world.

New Jersey and California have passed laws making it a criminal offense. New York is thinking about it. And I can see how upset a victim would be. But, having said that, I think this article from Wired makes some sense. The point of the article is that there currently exist a number of weapons to fight this practice, and most of them don’t pose First Amendment concerns. 

The key to any criminal statute in this arena is to write the language as narrowly as possible. Here’s a good post from the Volokh conspiracy on that point. The lesson for state legislators, I think, is don’t assume a victim has no remedy. And if you do feel compelled to write legislation, don’t try to cover too much ground. That may be counterproductive.

And of course, couples – either turn off the camera or keep it PG.

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