10th State Outlaws “Revenge Porn;” Laws’ Effectiveness Not Clear

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Arizona, which this week became the 10th state to outlaw so-called “revenge porn,” has one of the strongest such laws, making it a felony to post online images of people who are nude or that are sexually explicit, without getting their consent, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The momentum has gathered quickly, with 27 state legislatures considering bills this year to crack down on a phenomenon that often involves photographs or videos taken with consent but then misused after the relationship turns sour.

Advocates for revenge-porn laws caution that it's important to craft the wording carefully to ensure that the new laws will be effective and withstand free-speech and freedom-of-the-press challenges. Not all state lawmakers are doing that well, they say. “Unless [victims] show there's a need for these laws, these bills are going to be dying left and right,” says Holly Jacobs, founder of the End Revenge Porn campaign and the nonprofit Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, based in Miami. Most of the laws are so new that it's too soon to tell how effectively they will deter revenge porn or enable successful prosecutions. At least three nonconsensual pornography convictions have resulted from a 2004 New Jersey privacy law, says law Prof. Mary Anne Franks of the University of Miami who has helped draft some of the state statutes.

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