Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Edward Braunstein.

The state legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo have finally approved a Bayside lawmaker’s bill that has failed in the senate repeatedly in New York to make revenge porn a prosecutable offense.

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein has pushed for the bill’s passage for up to six years, which could not only put an offender away for up to a year but would also grants courts the authority to order content related to the victim to be removed from various websites.

Braunstein has introduced the bill every year since 2014, which passed the assembly unanimously last year. But the senate, a Republican majority at the time, did not even bring it to the floor after alleged pressure from the Internet Association and Google, a spokesman for the Bayside assemblyman said.

“Revenge porn is a pervasive problem that often results in victims being threatened with sexual assault, stalked, harassed, or fired from jobs,” Braunstein said. “Some victims have even committed suicide due to the severe emotional pain caused by the disclosure of their intimate photos. The passage of this legislation sends a strong message that individuals who engage in this type of reprehensible behavior will be held accountable for their actions.”

Both houses of the legislature voted on Feb. 28 in favor of the bill, which Cuomo called a key component in his administration’s Women’s Agenda.

“For years I have called for outlawing revenge porn as part of our fight to combat sexual violence in all its forms. This disgusting and insidious behavior, which can follow victims around their entire lives, has no place in New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We will never stop fighting to protect and strengthen women’s rights and opportunity.”

Once the bill is signed into law, perpetrators could face up to a year in prison as well as fines and other civil penalties while the courts would have the authority to order websites to removed images violating the rights of victims, which Braunstein says makes New York the first state to do this.

“No one – absolutely no one – should be subjected to having their most intimate moments blasted across the internet without their consent,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “Today’s legislation will ensure that people who illegally publish the intimate images of others are held accountable for their reprehensible actions.”

Carrie Goldberg, an attorney and advisory board member at the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, said she first started pursuing support for legislation regarding revenge porn when she herself had nearly become a victim herself

“This law puts sexual privacy where it belongs – in the hands of New Yorkers,” said Goldberg. “I started my firm in 2014 to fight for victims of sexual assault and stalking because I couldn’t find a lawyer when I was under attack by a vengeful ex threatening to spread pictures of me. And over the last five years, hundreds of New Yorkers have sought our help when they suffered the humiliation and backlash from their most private moments being posted on the internet and social media for the world to see. Some lost jobs; others were blackmailed and stalked by strangers.”

Councilman Rory Lancman passed the bill at the city level which was enacted in December 2017.

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