After years of lobbying, Florida has passed a law that prohibits the posting of "revenge porn" to the internet.
On October 1, it will be a first-degree misdemeanor to post a sexually-explicit photo online without the subject's consent, or if it is intended to cause "substantial emotional distress" or contains personally identifying information about the subject such as their address or phone number.
17 other states have already adopted legislation aimed at preventing online sexual harassment, reports USA Today. New Jersey was the first to act, in 2004.
Last June, a cyberbullying suspect solicited sexually explicit Snapchat photos of Brevard County high school girls, then posted them on an Instagram account — alongside the girls' names and the names of their schools.
A new law criminalizing "revenge porn" would have let Brevard County Sheriff's Office agents file charges in that case, Maj. Tod Goodyear said.
"Revenge Porn" often involves images that were originally taken with the consent of the subject, but later published without consent to humiliate or otherwise harm them. The archetypal angry ex-boyfriend out for revenge is just one scenario among many, and the bill also targets websites that aggregate such images and demand payment to remove images.
First offenders face up to a year in jail, and repeat offenses would be felonies carrying penalties of up to five years imprisonment. The law also provides victims with civil damages. The Miami New Times reports that the bill passed with unanimous support in the state senate this year after an earlier attempt failed in 2014.
CBS News reports that a stronger version of the law, which also applied to email transmission, was weakened to ensure passage.
"This significant legislation will strengthen our ability to prosecute the heinous crime that is revenge porn," Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. "I am very appreciative of the wonderful collaboration with our stakeholders and legislators, particularly former prosecutor and now state Rep. Carlos Trujillo and the efforts of Sen. David Simmons and state Rep, Tom Goodson, who co-sponsored this important bill."
In most states, however, the posting of explicit photographs without the subject's permission "remains a legal gray area." Prosecutors are often unable to target even egregious offenders unless they also attract other charges, such as distributing child porn or extortion. CNN interviewed a woman forced to enforce "copyright on her breasts" to deal with an ex-boyfriend who sought to humiliate her online.