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Senators introduce bill to criminalize revenge porn

The Act would mean the Department of Justice could properly address the issue.
Rachel England, @rachel_england
November 28, 2017
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Senators have introduced a bill today which, if passed, would establish federal criminal liability for those sharing revenge porn. The bill, Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment (ENOUGH) Act of 2017, will address what Congressperson Jackie Speier calls a "gaping hole in our legal system".

The issue of revenge porn has gained increasing prominence in recent times, thanks largely to the number of high-profile cases on social media. Earlier this year, for example, Rob Kardashian posted explicit photos of his ex-girlfriend Blac Chyna on Twitter. While Twitter removed the offending tweets, it chose to leave his account active, blithely noting that it doesn't "comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons."

The ENOUGH Act follows a number of unsuccessful attempts to take a hard stance against revenge porn. Rep. Speier introduced a version of the bill, the Intimate Privacy Protection Act of 2016, in the 114th Congress, but it only made it as far as the House of Representatives. More recently, a number of representatives tried to criminalize revenge porn, along with swatting and doxxing, with the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017.

The newly-proposed bill, which has bi-partisan support, has been backed by tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter, which updated its policy last month to state users can't share "intimate photos or videos" of someone without their consent. Facebook has also taken a proactive stance on the matter, testing a set of tools designed to stop the spread of images once they've been reported.

However, it does seem that the ENOUGH Act places a degree of burden of proof on the victim. In order for a prosecution to take place, there would need to be proof that the offender knew the victim expected the image to remain private, and that sharing the image would harm the victim. Nonetheless, considering the UK criminalized the sharing of revenge porn two years ago, the ENOUGH Act represents long overdue action on a distressing matter that affects one in 25 people in the US. Providing, of course, that it passes.

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