Gov. Raimondo signs revenge porn, sextortion bill into law

News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A bill seeking to criminalize “revenge porn” and “sextortion” in Rhode Island was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Robert Craven and Sen. Erin Lynch Prata, is a compromise between the General Assembly, Raimondo and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.

Similar legislation was passed in 2016 but ended up being vetoed by Raimondo due to First Amendment concerns.

Craven said lawmakers made sure the bill is constitutionally sound and will protect Rhode Islanders from becoming victims of the practices.

“Revenge porn is nothing less than digital domestic assault and it has no place in our society to be tolerated,” Craven said. “Posting such material comes with a lifelong impact to the victim because nothing ever truly disappears once it goes online. Severe repercussions need to be in place for these digital abusers and this legislation establishes these long overdue punishments.”

Revenge porn is sexually explicit media that is publicly shared online without the consent of the pictured individual. Usually, it is uploaded by former lovers or hackers for the purpose of humiliation and exploitation.

The law also addresses “sextortion,” which occurs when offenders use personal images – often stolen or obtained by  hacking – to force victims to engage in sending more sexually explicit photos or videos under the threat of the images being made public. Victims of this crime are often extorted into paying money or providing personal information for the images to not be posted online.

“It is vitally important that we address this new kind of virtual assault, which disproportionately targets women,” Lynch Prata said. “Once it is law, it is my hope that it will make those posting these kinds of images think twice before invading someone’s privacy in such a degrading and damaging manner.”

In the new law, there is language that requires proof of intent to harm the victim during prosecution. It also exempts a person when dissemination serves a lawful purpose.

Steven Brown with the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believes the revised bill still needs an intent to harm standard.

“Absence of that means that pictures that may be newsworthy, that a newspaper or television station might want to show, could potentially violate this law,” Brown said. “We believe that the constitutional concerns that existed in the previous bill exist in this one.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Providence

Download Mobile Apps from WPRI 12
DOWNLOAD APPS NOW: Apple App Store | Google Play Store
PINPOINT WEATHER // Quick Links:

12 INFORMA: INFORMACIÓN DE CORONAVIRUS EN ESPAÑOL

More 12 Informa

Don't Miss

Viewer Pa on WPRI.com

Community Events & Happenings

More Community

The Border Report Tour

More Border Report Tour
Live Cams on WPRI.com