House Committee Discusses Revenge Porn Bill

Jan 24, 2018

Credit File Photo / KBIA News

The House Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety held a public hearing Tuesday morning on a proposed bill that criminalizes the nonconsensual circulation of private sexual images. A more commonplace term for this is revenge porn.

According to the statements made at the hearing, thirty eight states have similar laws already.

The bill states that a felony is committed when an image that would be reasonably understood as private, is intentionally shared without the knowledge or consent from the other party.

Eight witnesses testified on behalf of the bill. A mom from the St. Louis area expressed her support for the bill and the how cell phones can be used to damage individuals in the context of sharing images.

“With the click of a button, lives can be destroyed, the reach and impact, immeasurable," she said. "This type of destructive conduct is on the rise, due in part to the fact that malicious individuals do not fear the consequences of their actions."

An amendment to the bill includes the criteria that the image must also be shared with an intent to harass and threaten the victim. This addition would provide protection for reporters who would share such images for a news purpose.

According to the fiscal note on the bill, the Department of Corrections predicts that eight individuals would be convicted of this felony within the first year.

The same bill was proposed last year, but was not passed.

“I think it ran out of steam near the end of the session, just too many bills and not enough time,” said Representative Jim Neely, the bill’s sponsor.

Neely is optimistic the bill will pass this year.