Senators Seek to Help Victims of So-Called ‘Revenge Porn’ Sue Their Perpetrators

December 10, 2020 by Sean Trambley

WASHINGTON – This week, Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., introduced bipartisan legislation to allow individuals to seek compensation and relief in federal court for the non-consensual disclosure and transmission of intimate images of them, often referred to as “revenge porn.”

The bill recognizes that the disclosure of intimate images without the consent of the depicted person is considered a deeply harmful action in which offenders wield intimate images and other materials to humiliate, harass, intimidate, and exploit individuals, primarily women. 

Currently, there are no federal criminal or civil laws that address the specific problem of the non-consensual disclosure of intimate images.

“No person’s intimate images should be shared without their consent. But when this deep violation of privacy occurs, we must have legal avenues in place to empower the individual who has been violated to seek justice,” Hassan said. “Currently, it is extremely difficult for survivors to remove the harmful imagery from the public sphere permanently. Our bipartisan bill would create a legal pathway in federal court for victims to obtain just compensation from the person who shared their images without their consent, and to compel the removal of those images. I will continue working with Senator Hawley to move this important bipartisan bill forward.”

Hawley said, “This bill ensures that individuals who abuse others by spreading their intimate personal images will face stiff penalties. Such conduct is a devastating privacy violation for those whose images are shared, and Big Porn is all too eager to profit off this sickening trade. Congress should act now to put an end to this cycle of exploitation.”

Sens. Hassan and Hawley also introduced a related bipartisan bill today, the Survivors of Human Trafficking Fight Back Act, to create a private cause of action allowing victims of rape and sex trafficking, as well as individuals whose intimate images are distributed without their consent, to sue pornographic websites that profit off their exploitation.

To read the bill text, click here.

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