Yet Another State Is Taking a Powerful Stand to End "Revenge Porn"

Bad news for horrible people: Illinois has become the latest state to outlaw "revenge porn."

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a measure into law Monday that makes it a felony to post sexually explicit photos and videos on the Internet without the subject's permission. This practice, known as "revenge porn," is usually when a spurred ex-lover distributes private, sexual photos as a means of embarrassing or getting back at their former partner.

Violators could be punished with one to three years in prison and slapped with a fine of up to $25,000, reports the Chicago-Tribune. The law, which goes into effect June 1, also requires the "forfeiture of any money or goods received in exchange for posting the images."

"Cyberbullying can have lasting and often devastating effects on a person, especially when it involves the distribution of very personal images," Quinn said in a statement. "This shameful act can be as harmful as any other form of abuse."

More states are taking revenge porn seriously: Illinois follows California, Texas and about a dozen other states in passing privacy laws that include bans on distributing revenge porn, according to the New Republic. These type of laws are even being passed internationally, including in Great Britain where distributing lurid images against the subject's will soon be punishable by up to two years in prison. 

The topic grew more prominent following the celebrity nude photo hack last fall. Actress Jennifer Lawrence summed it up best by labeling the act as a sex crime: "It is a sexual violation. It's disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change," she said. "Just because I'm a public figure, just because I'm an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. I started to write an apology, but I don't have anything to say I'm sorry for."

She's right. People who take private pictures intended for private use have nothing to be sorry for — it's the people who egregiously abuse a former partner's trust who should be ashamed.  

Currently, the scum who distribute or host revenge porn online can avoid prosecution due to out-of-date anti-harassment laws. Some decry the newer legislation as a violation of free speech; others claim that existing laws sufficiently protect individuals from spurned jerks armed with a cell phone full of selfies. But, as Slate's Danielle Citron wrote last November, these "myths" are stupid. "We should move past the myths and start giving the victims of revenge porn the legal tools they need to protect themselves," wrote Citron.

Although websites that host revenge porn experience high traffic, exposing untold men and women to the world against their will, laws that cut off access to the source may help disarm this specific outlet for slut-shaming or blackmailing exes in the future.

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Jordan Valinsky

Jordan is a writer at the Live News desk. He's previously written for The Week, Betabeat, The Daily Dot and CNN.com.

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