REVENGE PORN (S 3167)

By Bob Katzen

The Senate approved a proposal that would prohibit the posting of sexually explicit images of another person online without their permission—commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” The practice is often used by ex-spouses or ex-partners. Massachusetts is one of only two states that does not have a law about this crime.

Another provision changes current law under which minors, under 18 years of age, who share explicit images of themselves or other minors can be charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register with the Sex Offender Registry. The bill allows minors to be diverted to an educational program that would provide them with information about the consequences of posting or transmitting indecent visual depictions of minors.

Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), the Senate chair of the Judiciary Committee, said the bill addresses the highly charged subjects of juvenile sexting and revenge porn. “I’m pleased that the Senate is taking action on a unified bill this week,” said Eldridge. “I commend the victims for their passionate advocacy and applaud their courage in coming forward to tell their stories.”

“Under current law, when faced with an incident of sexting among teenagers, the police are forced with either charging them with a felony or doing nothing,” said sponsor Rep. Jeff Roy (D-Franklin). “The bill … provides law enforcement officers with a middle ground that will allow them to educate kids about the consequences of their actions without ruining their lives. It will have a tremendous impact on people who have become entangled in the web and transmittal of images that can cause traumatic and lifetime harm through a diversion program that will educate them about the legal and personal consequences of ‘sexting.’”

The House approved a different version of the measure in May. The Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.

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