The Missouri House has voted to criminalize what is often called, “revenge porn;” sharing or threatening to share private sexual images of a person without that person’s consent. Such sharing often happens by the uploading of those images to the internet.
House Bill 1558 would make such sharing of images a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and would make threatening to share them a felony carrying up to four years in prison. The bill covers photographs, videos, digital recordings, and other depictions.
The bill is sponsored by Representative Jim Neely (R-Cameron), who said it’s simply an issue of common sense.
St. Louis Democrat Stacey Newman thanked Neely for tackling an issue that she said predominately effects women.
The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence supports the legislation. Public Policy Director Jennifer Carter Dochler said people who have been victims of “revenge porn” face a number of issues.
“Often times they feel very vulnerable and exposed because they did something to establish intimacy with a partner and now it’s been used against them and they don’t know who all’s seen it. This wasn’t their choice that it was being distributed, they don’t know who’s seen it, they don’t know what’s being done with it. Something was used against them that was not its purpose,” said Carter Dochler.
Liberty Democrat Mark Ellebracht was glad to see Republicans and Democrats come together to pass this bill on an issue he thinks most Missourians think is already addressed in law.
“A number of people that I’ve talked to, both from regular attorneys’ perspectives to the constituents that call me and express their concerns, everybody is a little bit surprised that something like this hasn’t been done already,” said Ellebracht. “I think that it was a sorely needed measure that we needed to pass to put the law in this state where people expect it to be.”
In addition to creating the crime of “nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images,” the bill allows victims to file civil suits against those accused of the crime.
HB 1558 passed out of the House 149-1. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.