On Nov. 28, H.R. 4472 was introduced, a proposed amendment to U.S. Code Title 18 that would make it unlawful to knowingly distribute a “private, visual depiction of an individual’s intimate parts or an individual engaging in sexually explicit conduct, with reckless disregard for the individual’s lack of consent to the distribution,” an act commonly referred to as “revenge porn.”

Under the proposed amendment, a person who shares these explicit images could face a five year prison sentence, but would protect someone who is reporting the unlawful activity in good faith. Additionally, if someone threatens or extorts another person with the explicit images, they could also face a prison sentence of up to five years.

The amendment, commonly referred to as Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment (ENOUGH) Act of 2017, was introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Klobuchar was involved in another piece of sexual harassment legislation reported earlier this month, a simple resolution that required sexual harassment training for all U.S. senators.

Co-sponsoring the bill are Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Walter Jones (R-NC), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Tom Rooney (R-FL).

“The consequences of nonconsensual pornography are real: devastated careers, broken families, and shattered lives.” said Meehan in a press release. “There should be penalties for exploiting victims and this legislation will ensure that the perpetrators of these acts will have to pay the price.”

Per the press release, if passed, the ENOUGH Act would: provide the Department of Justice an “appropriate and effective tool” to address these privacy violations, narrowly establish federal criminal liability for individual who share private, explicit images without consent and strike an effective balance between protecting the victims of these privacy violations and ensuring that online speech is not burdened.

According to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a non-profit organization that advocates to end online abuse, 38 states and the District of Columbia have revenge porn laws. The 12 missing states are Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Wyoming. According to Kelly/Warner, a law firm specializing in internet law, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina or Wyoming do not currently have any pending revenge porn bill in the state legislator.

In a study released last year, Data & Society Research Institute stated that one in 25 Americans has been a victim of revenge porn. The topic of revenge porn gained national attention in 2014 when a collection of nearly 500 images of celebrities – many of which contained nudity – were shared online after hackers were able to access the victim’s iCloud backup files.

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