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Revenge Porn Bill Passed in NY; Tech Giants Will Be Forced to Remove Content

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The legislation would also create a private right of action for victims to pursue damages and injunctive relief against the individual and ask a judge to order websites to remove the images. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The effort to bring an end to revenge porn is moving forward.

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) has announced that the Assembly and Senate have unanimously passed legislation he authored to criminalize the unlawful dissemination and publication of intimate images, commonly referred to as revenge porn, and also provide victims with a civil private right of action (A.5981).

“Revenge porn is a pervasive problem that often results in victims being threatened with sexual assault, stalked, harassed, or fired from jobs,” said Braunstein. “Some victims have even committed suicide due to the severe emotional pain caused by the disclosure of their intimate photos. The passage of this legislation sends a strong message that individuals who engage in this type of reprehensible behavior will be held accountable for their actions.”

The bill would criminalize the unlawful dissemination or publishing of intimate images without the subjects’ consent, and with the intent to cause emotional, financial or physical harm to another person.

The legislation would also create a private right of action for victims to pursue damages and injunctive relief against the individual and ask a judge to order websites to remove the images. This right of action would work in conjunction with the criminal law, but would not require a conviction or charge in order to proceed. Under the new legislation, victims of revenge porn would have the choice to pursue a criminal case, a civil case or both.

Once this bill is signed into law, perpetrators will face up to a year in prison, providing prosecutors with the tools necessary to punish those who commit these despicable crimes, said Braunstein. “Victims will also be able to file for a court order requiring websites to permanently remove the offending images as well as obtain significant civil penalties against the abuser. This would make New York the first state in nation to allow a court to issue an injunction requiring websites to take these videos and images down.”

Beyond that, he thanked Carrie Goldberg, a victim’s rights lawyer at C. A. Goldberg, PLLC, as well as for the advocates at the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, Sanctuary for Families, and the Cyber Sexual Abuse Task Force, for their “tireless advocacy over the last 6 years on this important issue.”

“No one – absolutely no one – should be subjected to having their most intimate moments blasted across the internet without their consent,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “Today’s legislation will ensure that people who illegally publish the intimate images of others are held accountable for their reprehensible actions. I’m glad we could work with our friends and colleagues in the Senate to give victims of revenge porn the justice they deserve.”

“I am proud to have worked together with Assemblyman Braunstein and with all stakeholders to pass this vitally important bill. Today is not only a win for the State Legislature, but for all victims of this unspeakable violation. This is a testament to the strength we have when we work together to protect all New Yorkers,” said Senator Monica R. Martinez.

“This law puts sexual privacy where it belongs – in the hands of New Yorkers,” said Goldberg. “I started my firm in 2014 to fight for victims of sexual assault and stalking because I couldn’t find a lawyer when I was under attack by a vengeful ex threatening to spread pictures of me. And over the last five years, hundreds of New Yorkers have sought our help when they suffered the humiliation and backlash from their most private moments being posted on the internet and social media for the world to see. Some lost jobs; others were blackmailed and stalked by strangers.”

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