St George News

Law makes spurned lover reprisals illegal; attempt to avenge revenge porn

ST. GEORGE – The month of May brings 352 new Utah laws that took effect Tuesday, demonstrating that as times change, so does what legislators deem crimes, and with that come laws. Among the new legislation is a law effected by HB 71 outlawing “revenge porn” – the distribution of intimate or sexually explicit, images, pictures or videos of another person without his or her permission, even if the photograph itself was taken with consent. The new law is found at Utah Code Section 76-5b-203, linked here.

Violation of this law is a class-A misdemeanor, subject to up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Violation on a second or subsequent conviction for an offense under the law that arises from a separate criminal episode, as defined by statute, is a third-degree felony.

With the rise of social media and Internet usage, states are increasingly addressing the issue of “revenge porn,” considered one of the newest developments in harassment and the worst kind of cyberbullying.

Revenge porn websites started popping up in 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and most allow anyone to upload the photos or videos directly.

When a relationship sours, for some, the lines become blurred as to what should remain private and what may be public, especially when anger and resentment are controlling the keyboard.

A spurned spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend may distribute nude photos or other explicit materials of their ex-significant other by uploading explicit material to websites in a malicious attempt to seek revenge. Many of these websites are set up specifically for these kinds of photos or videos and then charge a fee to have the materials removed. Often times, the victim’s name, address and links to social media profiles are included with the images.

Most states have laws prohibiting taking sexually explicit photographs without the subject’s knowledge or consent but have had very few laws to address revenge porn. Though there is legislation that covers the posting of explicit material of minors, there has been no protection for adults.

Currently, revenge porn bills have been introduced or are pending in at least 27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legislation has been enacted in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, and bills in Colorado and Hawaii have been sent to the governor. Almost all of the bills would criminalize revenge porn, setting the crime as a felony in many states.

The law forces those who are angry from an ugly breakup or divorce, to pause and consider the consequences before vengefully spreading or publishing intimate moments shared between the couple to a public audience.

On Feb. 14, HB 71 first passed the House 68-6 with 1 not voting. The bill then received Senate approval on Feb. 27, followed by a Senate amendment March 13 that passed 22-0 with 7 not voting. The bill, as amended by the Senate, received House concurrence the same day, 66-6 with 3 not voting. See note below on how Southern Utah legislators voted.

The bill was signed by the Governor on March 29 and enrolled in the Utah Code as section 76-5b-203.

Ed. Note: From Southern Utah, Sens. Ralph Ockerlund, David Hinkins, Steve Urquhart and Evan Vickers all voted for the bill; Sen. Ockerlund did not vote on the amendment.

From Southern Utah, Reps. Brad Last, John Westwood, Michael Noel, V. Lowry Snow and Don Ipson voted for the bill as amended; Rep. Jon Stanard did not vote, although he did vote in favor of the bill when it first passed the House.

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  3 Comments
  1. Mormon Thing? May 18, 2014 at 8:40 am · Reply

    Is this activity of taking sexually explicit photos and videos of your spouse, girlfriend or boyfriends a common mormon thing? just how big a problem is this in Utah? How many of those photos end up on Cra…list?

  2. Idiot? May 18, 2014 at 11:09 am · Reply

    What kind of comment is that? I’m not Mormon and grew up in new Jersey and is a huge problem there as well as probably everywhere else in the world. If you haven’t take nude pictures of your loved one then your the one thats odd. Not the mormons

    Maybe try getting off your computer, go outside and meet someone you can be in a relationship with??? Just a suggestion

    • MORMON THING May 19, 2014 at 9:17 am · Reply

      The comment based on their habit of denial of doing anything claimed to be contrary to their religion and blaming those behaviors on everyone else. Bunch of phony people.

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