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  Posted on: Thursday, January 30, 2014
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Bill in Olympia would make 'revenge porn' a felony

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Washington is joining a list of states trying to make it a felony to post "revenge porn" online.

Imagine the humiliation of finding naked photos of yourself, taken in private, suddenly posted on the internet for all to see. It's usually your ex, exacting some sort of revenge over the split.

"There's usually someone with some hurt or angry feelings and in order to get back at the other person they post what were intimate, special moments for them in order to purposely humiliate them," said Rep. Jeff Morris, D-40th legislative district. "It's almost like bullying."

Morris is sponsoring a bill [HB 2250] specifically defining the crime of distributing intimate images. It's an update to a voyeurism law, originally written in response to the phenomenon of "up-skirt photos" and secretly recorded videos.

"We're making it clear that the use of certain technologies, the use of the internet to broadly embarrass or bully someone, those things are wrong," said Morris.

The language in the bill specifically addresses photos or videos that both parties understand "shall remain private" and then are distributed on the internet to get back at the ex-partner.

"To get around the free speech issue, if the purpose is to humiliate or embarrass the former partner, that's what's against the law and the bill that I'm working on focuses on internet distribution," said Morris.

Last summer, a Seattle police detective was arrested for domestic violence and cyberstalking, accused of posting images on-line of his girlfriend taken during sex.

Some states are going after the operators of revenge websites, which can be a tricky proposition because of jurisdiction.

The bill gets a hearing Friday in the House Public Safety Committee. The law would make distributing intimate images a crime similar to voyeurism, stalking or cyberbullying, a class C felony, which is commonly punished, not with jail time but, with a fine.

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