Calif. Would Tighten Cyber Porn Laws

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – California legislators have proposed bills that would make revenge porn a new crime and increase protections for its victims.
     Revenge porn, or cyber-exploitation, is defined as nonconsensual distribution and publication of intimate photos and videos. The images are usually obtained before a relationship turns sour, or by hacking into the victim’s phone, computer, or social media accounts.
     California saw its first criminal conviction for revenge porn in early February when Kevin Bollaert was convicted of six counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft.
     Later that month, Hunter Moore, who operated a revenge porn website, agreed to plead guilty to computer hacking and identity theft charges.
     On Monday, state Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, and Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, introduced companion bills that would make it easier to prosecute cyber-exploitation.
     “Several years ago, it was brought to my attention that countless lives were being destroyed because another person they trusted distributed compromising photos of them online. As a result I created legislation that makes this activity illegal,” Cannella said.
     “I quickly realized, however, there was much more to be done. As technology evolves, unfortunately, so does the rate of these cyber-crimes – increasing the number of victims impacted. And while I wish these types of crimes didn’t exist, SB 676 and AB 1310 will provide even more protection to victims.”
      Senate Bill 676 would classify the intentional distribution of personally identifying information associated with an image of an intimate body part, obtained without the consent of the person depicted, as a new crime. And it would make revenge porn images subject to forfeiture to law enforcement for destruction.
     Assembly Bill 1310 would permit seizure of revenge porn images as grounds for issuance of a search warrant, giving law enforcement the ability to search electronic databases and retrieve the victims’ images. It also would expand jurisdiction so that actions involving the same offender with multiple victims could be combined into one court case, streamlining the process.
     Prosecution of revenge porn cases would be allowed either in the county where the victim resides or in the county where the images were posted. Since posters and website operators commonly reside outside of the victims’ jurisdiction, this would relieve some of the burden placed on the victim during prosecution, according to Attorney General Kamala Harris.
     “Cyber-exploitation is a heinous crime that humiliates and degrades victims, while creating devastating effects on their personal and professional lives,” Harris said. “This legislation will provide law enforcement with tools to prosecute these crimes, and provide critical support to victims suffering from the debilitating impacts.”

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