On Thursday, May 26, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill that criminalizes the dissemination of sexual images or videos without consent. This is a move against "revenge porn," where someone releases explicit pictures or videos online of a person often as a way to punish or blackmail them.
This is an excerpt from boston.com that further explains the bill: "The bill clarifies that the state’s existing criminal harassment laws also apply to the distribution of explicit materials without consent with the intent to “harm, harass, intimidate, threaten or coerce, or with reckless disregard for the likelihood that the person depicted or the person receiving will suffer harm.”
The non-consensual distribution of such images on social media has led other states, except for Massachusetts and South Carolina, to take steps to criminalize these actions. In a letter accompanying an earlier version of the bill, this is what Governor Charlie Baker had to say about outlawing revenge porn: “We have laws punishing the non-consensual recording of sexually explicit images of unsuspecting people. Our laws do not address, however, when a person takes a sexually explicit image or recording that was lawfully obtained and then distributes it with the intent to harm the person depicted and without that person’s consent.”
According to the bill that was passed by the House, first-time offenders can face up to two and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Second-time offenders can face up to ten years in prison and $15,000 in fines. If the offender is a minor, they can face time in a juvenile correctional facility and up to $500 in fines.
The bill is now headed to the Massachusetts Senate for approval.