Maryland delegate proposes law to outlaw “revenge porn”

It’s a common criticism of American law that our criminal statutes are unable to keep up with the changing times. The Internet revolution, in particular, has presented a number of new legal issues that lawmakers often have difficulty sorting out. When new laws are created, lawmakers must take the time to ensure they are fair, just and enforceable.

One new law that is currently under consideration is a statute that would criminalize so-called “revenge porn.” Revenge pornography is the practice of posting an ex-lover’s nude photos onto the Internet following a breakup. It’s a practice that has become more widespread in recent years, and a number of websites have already been shut down and subjected to penalties for facilitating the practice.

Maryland already has laws that prevent Internet crimes, but some say these laws are not sufficient to punish and deter revenge pornography. One Maryland delegate is seeking to rectify this by introducing a new bill that would make the posting of revenge pornography a felony offense. Under the new law, people convicted would be subject to a $25,000 fine and a possible 5-year prison sentence.

Currently, only California and New Jersey have passed laws that specifically address the posting of revenge pornography. Proposals in other states have been derailed by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, who feared that a poorly written law could violate the First Amendment rights of people who write about or link to revenge pornography sites.

If passed, the Maryland bill would create some of the strictest penalties in the nation for the posting of revenge pornography. Few details have been revealed about the wording of the bill itself; more information will likely be available when the bill is formally unveiled next week.

Source:  The Baltimore Sun, “Cardin proposes criminalizing ‘revenge porn’” Erin Cox, Oct. 28, 2013