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Outlawing Revenge Porn: Bill To Make Release Of Explicit Pictures, Video A Felony

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — People who post explicit pictures of their ex-lovers on the Internet could soon face consequences. It’s called “revenge porn” and a bill coming up in the General Assembly next year makes it a felony.

Political reporter Pat Warren has more on what’s considered cyber sexual harassment.

Annmarie Chiarini became a victim of revenge porn when her ex posted nude pictures of her on a website.

“There were several consequences. Mostly they were emotional. I did have a suicide attempt after this happened twice to me, once in 2010 and 2011. The second time, I felt so helpless and hopeless and I felt this is my life and there was no escaping this, so it has taken me a long time to recover from that,” Chiarini said.

Maryland is among a number of states now addressing revenge porn. Baltimore Delegate Jon Cardin is leading the charge.

“This is about people exposing others, putting others in harm’s way, jeopardizing their reputation,” Cardin said.

Cardin’s bill makes it a felony to post sexually explicit images of a person without their consent.

WJZ continues to track the balance between free speech and safeguards in social media.

This year, the General Assembly passed Grace’s Law, named for Grace McComas who committed suicide after being bullied online, to protect minors from cyberbullying. In another development, Facebook will take down posts considered damaging to Maryland public school students.

Chiarini is now a victim advocate for the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

“The damages can be severe but still we have to stand strong and we have to, more importantly, stand together,” she said.

Supporters believe the bill can be written to withstand any free speech challenges.

The penalty for a felony conviction would be up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

New Jersey and California have enacted laws against revenge porn. Other states are considering similar measures.

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