Jones, Bieda introduce bipartisan legislation to crack down on ‘cyber revenge’

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LANSING—Legislation that would criminalize “cyber revenge” was introduced in the Michigan Senate on Thursday by Sens. Rick Jones and Steven Bieda.

Cyber revenge is the distribution of sexually graphic images of an individual without their consent, as well as posting online images originally obtained with consent within the context of a private relationship.

“This is an attempt to stop cyber revenge – usually the actions of a former lover to intimidate or harass their ex-partner or to damage their reputation,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This breach of trust is a growing problem in America that affects both men and women. I will do everything I can to stop this, because everyone deserves to have their privacy protected – especially in their own home.”

Senate Bills 924 and 925 would make it illegal in Michigan to post any sexually explicit image on the Internet without that person’s written permission.

“Explicit photographs of an individual published on a website, where millions of people can view it, can turn their humiliation into a public commodity that devastates lives,” said Bieda, D-Warren. “We must address the issue now.”

First-time offenders would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of $500 or both. Subsequent violations could result in a year in prison, a $1,000 fine or both.

Besides pictures taken by a partner, the bills also apply to malicious hackers who steal images and upload them to websites or send them to a victim’s family, friends and co-workers.

SBs 924-925 are expected to be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. Jones is the chair of the committee and Bieda serves on the panel as minority vice-chair.

The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative aims to bring awareness to and reduce the occurrence of harassment on the Internet. To learn more about cyber revenge, visit the initiative’s campaign on the issue at www.EndRevengePorn.org.

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