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California Considers Law To Make 'Revenge Porn' Illegal

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Lawmakers in the US could soon make it illegal to post so-called "revenge porn" online after a breakup.

Politicians in California are currently debating the law, which would make it a crime to post pictures of anyone in a state of full or partial undress - even with that person's consent.

The law - which has passed the State's senate and is now under consideration by the assembly - is an attempt to curb what is seen as the growing number of "revenge porn" sites, where spurned lovers or exes post once-private images or videos on the web for the titilation of vast audiences.

But a crime would have only been committed if the pictures were posted with "the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and [that] the other person suffers serious emotional distress".

"Right now law enforcement has no tools to combat revenge porn or cyber-revenge," said Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), who proposed the bill, in a statement. "Unfortunately it is a growing trend and there are a lot of victims out there, a lot more than I ever imagined. It's destroying people's lives."

The bill says:

"This bill would provide that any person who photographs or records by any means the image of another, identifiable person with his or her consent who is in a state of full or partial undress in any area in which the person being photographed or recorded has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and subsequently distributes the image taken, and the other person suffers serious emotional distress would constitute disorderly conduct subject to that same punishment."

If convicted offenders could be fined up to $2,000, or face a month in prison - or both, according to the BBC. More severe penalties would follow if more offences were proven.

But as The Week points out, banning "revenge porn" is no easy task. Only one state (New Jersey) has actually managed to pass a law targeting the practice, while the legal lines between sites like Facebook and Instagram, dedicated "revenge" sites and who owns the images posted there remains unclear. It has also previously been opposed by anti-censorship groups who argue its definition is too broad in the context of the US constitution.