SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The kind of websites California Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) wants to punish with his newly amended bill are often called “revenge porn” sites, but they really have nothing to do with pornography, which is supposed to offer visitors a sexually titillating experience. These sites are designed to humiliate only, and any sexual titillation is purely coincidental and deeply fucked up. Nonetheless, the name has stuck as has the apparent willingness of some idiots to start them.
Of course, the inherently hostile and vile nature of these efforts has created an inevitable backlash. Victims are starting to fight back in court and online, and state houses around the country are starting to consider legislative efforts to curtail the spread of these sites by leveling enough pain on the people who create them to make it not worth the effort.
One such effort in Florida overreached and was defeated in House and Senate committees. In California, Cannella’s similar effort is underway, but unlike in Florida, the penalties in his bill are classified as misdemeanors and not felonies.
SB255 builds upon current electronic state law to “make it a misdemeanor for any person who, with the intent to cause substantial emotional distress or humiliation to another person, by means of an electronic communication device, and without consent of the other person, electronically distributes, publishes, emails, hyperlinks, or makes available for downloading nude images of the other person along with personal identifying information of the other person.”
That is language from the Legislative Counsel’s Digest. The actual language of the bill, which was amended to its current version on May 7, reads, “Every person who, with the intent to cause substantial emotional distress or humiliation, by means of an electronic communication device, and without consent of the other person, electronically distributes, publishes, emails, hyperlinks, or makes available for downloading nude images of the other person along with personal identifying information of the other person, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in a county jail, by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.”
The bill also contains a sense of its own urgency. Section 3 states “This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
“In order to protect the privacy of the public and the safety of the public at the earliest possible time, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.”
The Modesto Press also quoted Cannella as saying, ““People who post or text pictures that are meant to be private as a way to seek revenge are reprehensible. Right now, there is no tool for law enforcement to protect the victims. This is a common sense bill that clamps down on those who exploit intimacy and trust for revenge or personal gain.”
Thus Tuesday the bill was read a second time and amended, after which is was referred to the Rules Committee.