Pa. lawmaker targets ‘revenge porn’

    One Pennsylvania lawmaker is looking to follow in the footsteps of California and New Jersey by banning a kind of sexual harassment ushered in by the Internet age.

    Baby photos can become ammunition for parents trying to embarrass their teenagers.And some spurned lovers have weaponry of their own — sexually explicit photos and videos that can now go public online.

    Such matériel has been dubbed “revenge porn” by the two states that have outlawed it.

    Sen. Judy Schwank of Berks County said she’d like to follow suit, although she would prefer to call it “intimate partner harassment.”

    “In a way, I think that is a second way to victimize the victims, by having it recognized that you know what they did innocently has now turned into pornography,” said Schwank, D-Berks. “It’s humiliating enough.”

    She said that she’s talked with people whose reputations, job opportunities, and safety has been affected by material their ex-spouses or ex-lovers posted online.

    “Trying to approach for example websites that host this kind of information is extremely difficult. So it seems more appropriate to catch this at the level of making sure that the individual who does this kind of crime is penalized,” she said.

    Current law defines harassment as including communication about a person with lewd language, drawings, or caricatures.

    But that’s inadequate to bring charges against people who post photo and video — maybe only once — of their ex-lovers, said Schwank.

    The American Civil Liberties Union is one known objector to such measures. Schwank said she hopes to work with the local chapter to address those concerns.

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