Motion Picture Association of America Wants Minnesota's New Anti-Revenge Porn Bill Revised

Source: Unsplash
Source: Unsplash

Revenge porn is a sort of impossible thing to combat — once a nude goes out into the ether, who can know where it will surface next? A number of states, most recently Minnesota, have introduced legislation intended to keep people from posting compromising pictures of their exes — compromising pictures of anyone, really — online. But the Motion Picture Association of America is having none of that, as BBC reported. 

Read more: Snapchat Sexting Is Being Used as a Vehicle for Revenge Porn — and It's Hard to Stop

"The MPAA opposes online harassment in all forms," read a statement from the association, according to the BBC. "While we agree with the aims ... we are concerned that the current version of the bill is written so broadly that it could have a chilling effect on mainstream and constitutionally protected speech."

Source: Giphy

For the same reason, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota would see the bill revised. According to the Associated Press, the organization's legal director, Teresa Nelson, would like to see its terms tightened to directly address "malicious intent" on the part of the poster, and/or knowledge that "they're invading someone's privacy." Unless those points are more clearly defined, she said, the law won't stand up in court and won't do the plaintiffs any good.

The MPAA's concerns hinge on censorship — that Minnesota's revenge porn law would "limit the distribution of a wide array of mainstream, constitutionally protected material," the BBC reported, including "items of legitimate news, commentary and historical interest." The MPAA cited pictures from violent but important historical moments, such as the Holocaust and abuse at Abu Ghraib as examples.

That's not a new argument; indeed, the ACLU made it when Arizona passed revenge porn legislation in 2014. As much as revenge porn laws would protect the people whose private photos are leaked online, it could also stand in the way of journalistic and historical work. 

Source: Giphy

In Minnesota — where the legislation, if cleared, would go into effect on Aug. 1 — the MPAA suggested the addition of an "intent to harass" qualification on sharing, the BBC reported. But according to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a revenge pornographer's motives don't matter.

"The motive of a distributor has no bearing on whether the material is newsworthy or a matter of public concern," CCRI's response stated. "A photograph of a dirty restaurant kitchen is not rendered less newsworthy because the distributor intends to harass the restaurant owner; nor would the Abu Ghraib photos be of less legitimate public concern if they were distributed by someone who held a personal grudge against the jailers." 

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Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

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