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Lancman rallies to put an end to “Revenge Porn”

Councilman Rory Lancman rallied on the steps of City Hall with state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein to call ettention to his “Revenge Porn” bill.
Photo courtesy of Councilman Rory Lancman
By Mark Hallum

City lawmakers are upping the ante on “revenge porn” sanctions with a call to pass legislation which will make disseminating intimate photos or videos of individuals without permission an offense punishable by one year in jail, a fine of $1,000 or both.

City Councilmen Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) and Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) announced the legislation in September and held a news conference Oct. 26 on the steps of City Hall with other elected officials, activists and victims in observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Since the bill was introduced, 12 co-sponsors have already made their stance clear on the need for the legislation.

“Releasing naked pictures of someone without their permission is absolutely despicable and it’s time for our laws to catch up with our technology so that victims of revenge porn can get the justice they deserve,” Lancman said. “We need to hold people accountable for their actions, especially since leaking intimate images of someone can have devastating and lifelong consequences. Our bill, modeled on a similar state bill, would make sure that strong protections are in place for New Yorkers.”

Lancman’s and Garodnick’s legislation is based on a state bill by state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), which was written in response to a new kind of abuse specific in the Internet age. Until then, it was only illegal to share photos taken without consent of the subject. Braunstein’s legislation also includes photos taken consensually with the elicit expectation of privacy.

“Revenge porn is a widespread problem, which has inflicted major emotional pain on thousands of victims, tragically causing some to commit suicide,” Braunstein said. “Victims of revenge porn are routinely threatened with sexual assault, stalked, harassed, or even fired from their jobs.”

Although Braunstein’s bill has not advanced beyond the Assembly’s Codes Committee and revenge porn in still legal in New York state, he said in September he was happy to see his bill adopted at the city level to protect victims from the outcomes of revenge porn.

“Revenge pornography is used by abusers as a weapon to terrorize and control their victims, disrupt social relationships, education, and employment, and undermine victims’ dignity and sense of safety,” Tobi Erner, senior social worker at Queens Legal Services, said. “By releasing explicit images without victims’ consent into the ether of the Internet and social media, abusers are able to entomb an act of abuse so that its effects are replicable and enduring—causing lifelong trauma, distress, humiliation, as well as devastating economic and social consequences to their victims.”

Among the activists at City Hall were Queens Legal Services, the Korean American Family Service Center of Flushing and Assemblyman Braunstein.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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