Committee to hear 'revenge porn' bill - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Committee to hear 'revenge porn' bill

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Members of the House Judiciary Committee were scheduled Tuesday to hold a hearing on a bill designed to outlaw so-called revenge porn in Rhode Island.

That's when someone, usually a former spouse or partner, posts explicit or intimate photos without permission.

"I really can't think of one good reason we should have it in society. It's very hurtful," state Rep. Donald Lally said.

Lally, a Democrat from South Kingstown, is behind a bill to make revenge porn a felony in Rhode Island.

"The courts have found many years ago that you don't have to leave a mark or bruise to assault someone, and I think this is in a way trying to assault that person whom you're no longer in a relationship with," Lally said.

House Judiciary is the first committee to take up the measure this year.

Democrat Erin Lynch of Cranston is sponsoring the measure in the Senate

"This revenge porn is something that disproportionately does affect women as its victims," said Lynch.

But not everyone thinks it should be a crime.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it believes the pictures and videos in question are free speech and that cases should be handled civilly.

"The question that we have is, is there a hole in the law that is not being filled that needs to be looked at? From our perspective, it's probably a hole in that civil tort law that needs to be dealt with. If that's not the case, then we're certainly happy to have a conversation and determine how the laws need to be amended," said Hillary Davis of the ACLU.

Davis said the bill being considered in judiciary committee is too broad.

The ACLU said it is absolutely concerned about protecting people's privacy, but it questions whether this criminalization of posting pictures is the way to do it.

"We'll do our best to balance the rights of individuals with the rights of victims who may find themselves in a situation," Lynch said.

Supporters are hoping this is the year the bill passes.

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