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Revenge porn to be criminalized in New York, joining 41 other states

Lawmakers in New York have voted to join 41 other states in criminalizing revenge porn. The Democrat-controlled Assembly and Senate passed legislation Thursday that would make it a misdemeanor to disseminate explicit photos of a person without their permission.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he plans to sign the bill. The measure would also allow victims to file lawsuits against the person responsible for distributing their photos. Additionally, it would allow victims to seek a court order to have the images taken down.

Supporters argued that criminal penalties are warranted due to the deeply personally and emotionally injurious nature of the offense.

"This violence seeks to cripple the soul," said Sen. James Sanders, D-Queens.

Under the proposed change, someone guilty of the crime could face up to a year in prison.

Debated for years, the bill had been held up over concerns that internet companies could be held legally responsible for inadvertently allowing revenge porn photos online. The bill was tweaked this year to address that concern.

Backers of the bill bemoaned the wait, saying revenge porn has only proliferated as texting and social media have grown in use and popularity.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports the bill and is expected to sign it once it reaches his desk.

"This disgusting and insidious behavior, which can follow victims around their entire lives, has no place in New York," Cuomo said in a statement Thursday.

In one example of how such legislation works, a 31-year-old man became the first individual to be prosecuted and sentenced under Oregon's revenge porn law in 2016. He received six months in jail and five years of probation.

In that case, Benjamin Barber was arrested for posting several pornographic videos of himself and a person he had once been in an intimate relationship with. When that relationship ended, Barber uploaded the videos to several adult websites without permission, authorities said.

Sgt. Bob Ray of the Washington County Sheriff's Office explained the law at the time.

"If you use the internet with the intent to harass or embarrass or basically demand someone, and there is sexually explicit material, and you can identify the other person who has not given their consent, that's essentially the threshold. If a person does that, they are essentially violating the law. even just posting it on Facebook. Yes, even if the video was taken consensually," Ray said.

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