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Gazette Premium Content Colorado bill criminalizing revenge porn advances

The Associated Press Updated: April 25, 2014 at 4:56 pm

DENVER — Legislation to criminalize posting intimate photos or videos of significant others to humiliate them, a trend that's become known as revenge porn, received initial approval in the Colorado House on Friday.

"This is a bill that recognizes that society changes, technology changes, and so our laws must change," said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, one of the sponsors of the bill.

The measure would make it a misdemeanor to publish explicit pictures or videos of someone without their consent to cause them "serious emotional distress." Offenders would also be fined at least $10,000 and ordered to remove the images from the Internet.

About two dozen states have considered legislation this year addressing revenge porn, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Colorado House gave initial approval to the proposal Friday with an unrecorded voice vote. The bill is expected to pass with a formal vote next week before heading to the Senate.

Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, another bill sponsor, said the legislation is trying to address what she referred to as "non-consensual pornography," instances where someone shares an intimate photo with a partner during a relationship "with the understanding that it's for that person's eyes only."

"Six months later it winds up on a revenge porn site," she said. "It's destroyed lives. It's destroyed careers. It's destroyed jobs."

States that have considered revenge-porn legislation have sometimes run into concerns about whether cracking down on the issue could violate free speech rights. Colorado lawmakers said they are trying to make sure that doesn't happen, and they've added an amendment to the bill so the law doesn't include images that are widely known or newsworthy, such as the case of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner.

"This is a very important criminal justice bill to help those victims who are put at complete and utter humiliation," Pabon said.

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