Friday, Jul 29, 2016
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Law would make revenge porn a crime

Connecticut could join California and New Jersey in tailoring laws to discourage the practice of putting “revenge porn” on the Internet. It usually takes the form of nude photos of women, taken during happier days of a relationship, posted by former husbands and boyfriends.

Although no victims testified on the legislation during a hearing of the Judiciary Committee on Monday, state prosecutors and victim advocates cited several cases in Connecticut for which state law against harassment is flawed in its application against those allegedly caught posting such nude photos.

But an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut said the proposal violates First Amendment rights to free speech and could set up media outlets for lawsuits because third parties, including websites, could be held liable.

’’Laws concerning this issue must be narrowly drawn,” warned Sandra Straub, the ACLU’s legal director, who suggested that if lawmakers want to protect victims, they should consider rewriting the proposal to mimic California law.

’’You would have to amend almost all of it to make it right,” Straub said to Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, who asked for guidance for a possible redrafting before the committee’s April 2 deadline.

She said the California law, which was not opposed by that state’s affiliate of the ACLU, it hinges on the agreement, written or non-written, between lovers to keep intimate images private; and to attempt to cause harm to the person whose image gets posted in revenge.

Under the Connecticut proposal, posting intimate images would be prohibited if a person were attempting to “harass, annoy, alarm or terrorize another person.”

State Victim Advocate Garvin G. Ambrose said in a written statement that, “States are only beginning to acknowledge and criminalize revenge porn.”

“If this proposal is adopted, victims, law enforcement and prosecutors alike will not have to rake through Connecticut’s criminal code attempting to find and stretch a provision that may fit the crime,” Ambrose said. “Victims need a means for prosecution and financial recovery. Moreover ,this proposal empowers law enforcement to take swift action upon a report of distribution of revenge porn as there will be identifiable legal grounds for their intervention.”

A private relationship represents an informal contract, said Jillian Gilchrest, director of public policy for the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, in testimony.

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