Bill to make revenge porn a felony

Bill to make revenge porn a felony

Jilted lovers wishing to take revenge should wait to serve that cold dish, as Idaho legislation has approved and passed a new bill that will make extorting an ex-partner a felony.

Recently passed bill H0563 will now protect individuals from post break-up extortion by extending the laws of video voyeurism. The bill changed the terms of voyeurism to include not only sexual gratification but also any other damaging aspects such as extortion or humiliation. Video voyeurism is also known as ‘revenge porn.’

“Revenge porn is the street name for the behavior people undertook,” said Rep. Luke Malek. “The bill revolves around revenge extortion, driven by criminal action.”

Revenge porn is the sharing of private photos or videos in the attempt to gain sexual gratification or extort an individual. Previous to the bill the ‘revenge’ was difficult to prove, mainly because of the legal gray area of who owned the videos or photographs and whether or not the person knew they had been disseminated and when the photos were aired.

Malek saw this as an opportunity to change Idaho for the better as more states considered the video voyeurism act in the 2014 session. Malek brought the bill to the house early February.  Its first round was dismissed but after a collaborative effort brought back for a redemption.

Despite well—received support, the bill was under scrutiny for possibly violating the First Amendment, freedom of speech.

“When (the couple) was together they were having a private relationship, but once you send (pictures) out it becomes that person’s property,” said Kathleen Cockerham, senior communication major. “It’s definitely not a black and white thing. I think people need to realize that when they send those out into the world it’s not going to stay private.”

Malek believes that the Idaho version steers clear of First Amendment violations.

“I do think that we have a better law and steer clear of the First Amendment issues that other states addressing revenge porn have run into,” Malek said.

The bill states that an individual is guilty of video voyeurism when photographing, videoing and/or disseminating private content “with the intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of such person or another person, or for his own or another person’s lascivious entertainment or satisfaction of prurient interest, or for the purpose of sexually degrading or abusing any other person.”

Previous to holding an office in the legislation, Malek was a prosecutor and dealt with acts of extortion. Sponsoring the bill hit home for him.

Revenge porn mainly targets women. Former lovers will take private photos and post them on pornography websites or sell them through a third party. But in some cases it goes the other way.

Malek believes that anyone is at risk.

“Wherever you have people where there are cellphones, individuals are at risk,” he said.

According to Malek, even sharing photos in the locker room is considered an act of video voyeurism. He stated that sharing or swapping photos “just isn’t worth it to ruin someone’s (or your own) life over.”

Private is meant to be kept private.

“If someone shares intimate photos with someone that are meant to be private then they need to realize they could be facing a felony if they don’t respect that privacy,” Malek added.

H0563 was signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter March 19 and goes into effect July 1 of this year.

Eryn Shay Johnson
Eryn Shay Johnson is the Assistant News Editor at the Arbiter. She currently studies communication at Boise State University. Johnson has a history in producing media content; she has produced content for The Post Register of Idaho Falls and The Times-News in Twin Falls. Her article “Good for the Soul: Group uses laughter as path to better health” was picked up by the Associated Press in July 2011. When she isn’t writing or studying Johnson spends time with her boyfriend, dog, and cat in their south Boise home.