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Revenge Porn: Florida Lawmakers Take National Lead in Battling Bullying’s New Virus

| April 16, 2013

Florida is taking the lead on turning the table on sexting and bullying lenses. (mondays child)

Florida is taking the lead on turning the table on sexting and bullying lenses. (mondays child)

In late February, several girls at Cypress Bay High School in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale saw identifiable images of themselves, nude, featured on an anonymous website. The images had at one point or another been fodder for sexting that the girls thought would remain between themselves and their recipient. They didn’t. The website went viral. Many of the 4,300 students at the school downloaded the images while the victimized girls themselves wept, skipped class or avoided school as the Broward County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation on possible child porn grounds. The site was shut down.

A few days later, in Brevard County, WFTV News reported the case of a young woman “ashamed to show her face” after her ex-boyfriend posted photos and videos of her, nude, on a so-called “revenge –porn” website that carried the woman’s full name, her email address and her location in Florida. “It’s like having that nightmare where you are naked in front of a room full of people, but you are living it day in and day out,” the woman told reporter.

It’s part of a relatively new phenomenon known as revenge porn, a variant of sexual harassment and bullying.

And Florida is the first state to address it. On Monday, a bill (SB946) criminalizing revenge porn cleared the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee on a unanimous vote. The vote included that of Sen. John Thrasher, who represents Flagler County. The bill cleared the Criminal Justice Committee on a unanimous vote in March. It’s now in the Appropriations Committee before heading to the Senate floor, where it is almost certain to be approved. Its companion bill in the House (H0787) also cleared two committees unanimously.

The bill would make it a third-degree felony to either non-consensually transmit or post the nude image or video of an individual on a website or social networking site like Facebook, with identifying information. It would make it a second-degree felony if the peddler is at least 18 and the victim younger than 16.

The measure does not define “nudity,” which could create thorny legal issues. Conversely, it leaves unclear a vast amount of harassing or obscene imagery that does not necessarily depict nudity, but nevertheless targets and embarrasses the individual depicted.

For now, and absent the measure becoming law, Florida law does not specifically prohibit posting pictures of a nude adult person on the Internet for viewing by other adults if the picture was taken with the knowledge and consent of the person, according to a legislative analysis of the bill. So most victims have no recourse. In some circumstances posting images can be legally actionable under  the state’s stalking or extortion laws, while posting the image of child nudity is either a second or a third-degree felony.

The new measure would consider an offense committed in Florida if any of the conduct that is part of the offense takes place in the state, or if harm to the targeted person takes place in the state. So, for example, if a woman is being targeted in Ormond Beach, she would have recourse under the law. But women targeted in other states, whose images appear on revenge sites accessible in Florida would have no recourse.

Should the Senate and the House pass it and the governor sign it, the measure would become law on Oct. 1.

Revenge-porn sites have been creeping up the more lurid ladders of popularity, led mostly by the genre’s perceived founder, Hunter Moore, who started a site called “Is Anyone Up,” shutting it down last year. The sites are not necessarily illegal: the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects website hosts from being considered the material’s publisher if the material is posted by third parties, and the material isn’t itself illegal.

Moore closed “Is Anyone Up” when questions were raised about the legality of some of the content. Then he promised to bring it back up, minus questionable content, and for a while threatened to include a mapping feature to the images, essentially enabling people to stalk those being exposed online. Moore retracted that threat, but reportedly went ahead with his new site, though it’s been blank. A Nevada court has already ruled against him in a defamation suit, costing him $250,000 plus court and attorneys’ fees. A class-action suit against Texxxan.com (a revenge-porn site in Texas that has gone blank) nd GoDaddy.com, by 20 women in Texas, is pending.


Craig Brittain modeled a similar revenge-porn site after Moore’s and now calls it obamanudes.com, breaking down its content by states and countries (with victims in Ormond Beach and Daytona Beach) and candidly outlining guidelines in an 11-point explanation. Example: “You must send at least 2 pictures with your submission. At least one must be a full or partial nude image,” or “In the event of any legal, criminal or civil action you agree to indemnify Obama Nudes and its owners from involvement.”

The directions also include this caution: “We will not turn over your information unless a formal request is issued by proper authorities.” That disclaimer would, should the Legislature’s measure become law, enable authorities in Florida to trace the origin of such pictures to their source, and prosecute the sender.

In February McAfee, the Internet security provider, released findings from its 2013 Love, Relationships, and Technology survey which examines the pitfalls of sharing personal data in relationships. With nearly two-thirds of smartphone owners carrying personal and intimate information on their mobile devices (financial or sexual) only 40 percent have password protection on their devices.

“We’re all aware of the cases involving celebrities, but you don’t have to be a celebrity to have your personal information exposed,” Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer at McAfee, said. “Sharing passwords with your partner might seem harmless, but it often puts you at risk for a ‘revenge of the ex’ situation, landing private information in a public platform for all to see. Everyone needs to be aware of the risks and take the steps to make sure their personal data is safe and secure.”

In 1,182 online interviews, the company found that 94 percent of respondents believed their data and revealing photos to be safe in the hands of their partners. But 13 percent were victims of leaks without their consent, while one in 10 ex-partners threatened exposing suggestive or nude photos of an ex online. According McAfee’s study, threats are carried out nearly 60 percent of the time.

Despite the risks, the survey found, 36 percent of Americans still planned to send sexy or romantic photos to their partners via email, text and social media on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

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7 Responses for “Revenge Porn: Florida Lawmakers Take National Lead in Battling Bullying’s New Virus”

  1. Magnolia says:

    This country is gone. You are witnessing those trying desperately to save it but the disease is terminal and spreading much faster than any feeble attempts to save it.

    What the hell is the matter with the sick and deranged people in what used to be a wonderful place to live? It has become pure evil.

    I am afraid we are to sick and stupid to survive.

    Morality….what’s that? It’s now mock and tear down. Sick beyond belief.

    • Johnny Taxpayer says:

      As opposed to a time when people had to drink from different water fountains based on the color of their skin? Which wasn’t that long ago. The action described in this article are horrible, and I’m happy to see Florida is leading the way in putting a stop to it, but let’s not pretend the past was utopia.

  2. Anita says:

    Instead of ranting over the state of the nation, it’s high time for parents to sit down with their adolescent girls, and have an age-appropriate frank talk about exposing their bodies. I would begin by having her read this article. Parents can explain that your BFF today may be your BFNM(never more) tomorrow and that sometimes “LOVE!!!!!” has a short shelf life. Advise her of the new trend in hiring in which employers are demanding applicant’s Facebook/UTube and other social network passwords before considering them for employment. Does she still think you’re clueless and her friends are just having fun? Even if lawmakers make “revenge-porn” illegal, once your photo is out there on the Net, you too could wind up the punch line of a bad joke when you least need or want it. Ask Anthony Weiner ( I did say a frank talk). The point is, Mom and Dad, people can be malicious and if your precious daughter is a minor, you DO have the leverage to influence a lot more of her lifestyle choices than you think. Use it to encourage her to keep her clothes on in public..

  3. Nancy N. says:

    You do realize that the penalty for a first class felony in this state is THIRTY years, right? Suggesting that someone should get 30 years in prison for publicly posting nude pictures of their ex is ridiculous. We’re not talking about ax murders here.

  4. Alfred E. Newman says:

    In my sixth decade of life, I don’t think of stuff like this.
    Time for a nap. Bye.

  5. brian says:

    seems to me if you take a pix or allow a pix of yourself to be taken, you have lost any right to later, complain about its use..how about some PERSONAL responcibility..if this law is passed the supreme court WILL strike it down..just don’t do it in the first place!!!

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