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Illinois State Senator Proposes Ban On Revenge Porn

By Jon Graef in News on Feb 2, 2014 6:00PM

State Sen. Michael Hastings [D-19] recently introduced a proposal that would ban revenge porn--the practice of posting sexually explicit materials on the web of an ex as means of shame in order to get back at them.

The proposal makes revenge porn a Class 4 felony.

Here's the substance of Senate Bill 2694, co-sponsored by fellow State Sen. Toi W. Hutchinson [D-40], courtesy of the Tribune's Maura Zurick:

Under the measure, it would become a felony to post nude and sexually explicit pictures of another person without his or her permission. The bill also would make it a crime to require a fee to get pictures removed from a website. The maximum penalty would be up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine, though judges would have discretion to impose lesser punishments.

A summary of the bill states that while "(c)urgent law prohibits...posting sexually explicit content of a minor on an Internet site," no such law exists for adults. The bill summary also says that, while victims of revenge porn have "civil remedies" as a course of action, "there is no criminal deterrent that would prevent someone from committing is act."

Sen. Hastings wastes no time in describing why he thinks such a bill is necessary.

“It’s extortion, it’s wrong and it’s a growing problem,” Hastings said in an official statement on his website.

Hastings also explains the consequences for victims of revenge porn.

“This can be extremely devastating and humiliating to an unsuspecting victim,” Hastings said. “There are reported instances where the victims are forced to change their names and even move to escape the barrage of unwanted harassment.”

The bill comes as revenge porn has reached a merciful nadir. Revenge Porn kingpin Hunter Moore was arrested late January by the FBl, and also caused a controversy here in Chicago earlier that month.

Gapers' Block's Fruzsina Eordogh explains:

Hunter Moore, the most well-known face of revenge porn and consequently the "most hated man on the Internet," just had his DJ gig at Lincoln Hall canceled after public outcry on Twitter and Facebook.

"In spite of an outside promoter's announcement, we never booked or confirmed a lineup for the Feb 15 event. Hunter Moore will not be appearing at Lincoln Hall," wrote the venue in a statement on their Facebook page. Party planners Porn and Chicken had originally booked Moore.

As for what's next for SB2694, the proposal was referred to the state legislature's Assignments committee for a hearing.

The ACLU's Edwin C. Yohnka issued the following statement about the bill:

We recognize that embarrassment, shame and damage to one’s reputation can result from the non-consensual publication of intimate photos and videos. While this measure seeks to criminalize this conduct, Illinois civil law already provides a remedy, including the removal of the offending image. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois hopes that legislators will examine these civil remedies before adopting criminal penalties.

Revenge porn has been outlawed in New Jersey and California, while states like Maryland and Virginia are considering measures that take similar action.