Pa. ‘revenge porn’ law criticized as weak

    Advocates are calling Pennsylvania’s new law against “revenge porn” — nude or sexual images shared without permission of the person pictured — disappointing.

    The law signed earlier this month attempts to make it a crime.

    But Mary Ann Franks, a Miami School of Law professor, said it’s too narrow, making the crime depend on a perpetrator’s “intent to harass, annoy, or alarm.”

    “it is really difficult to prove, as a matter of law, that someone is acting with the intent to do something, as opposed to, oh, I did it because I didn’t think it was a big deal, or I thought it was funny, or I wanted to make some money for my website, or I wanted get famous, or I thought she was really pretty and I thought she’d appreciate it,” said Franks. “Or whatever it is.”

    Franks, vice president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, said the Pennsylvania ban also restricts perpetrators to those who are past or present sexual partners of their victims.

    But some perpetrators have no intimate relationship with their victims at all, and simply gain access to the victim’s computer or photos, she said.

    The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union at one point opposed the measure, but switched its stance to neutral.

    Thirteen states have passed similar bans.

     

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