Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Edward Braunstein
Violators of the revenge porn bill can face up to a year in jail and civil penalties.

Cyberbullies in New York state looking to publish revenge porn will now face up to a year in jail thanks to a Bayside lawmaker’s newly signed legislation criminalizing the act.

After a six-year push, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed Assemblyman Edward Braunstein’s bill criminalizing the publication of revenge porn or the “non-consensual sharing or publication of an intimate image.”

Images classified as “revenge porn” are done with the intent to cause harm to the emotional, financial or physical welfare of a person. In addition, the images must be taken with a reasonable expectation that it will remain private.

Under the bill, violators will face up to a year in jail and as well as civil damages. The law also empowers victims to seek a court order to remove the offending images online.

“This new law will make it a Class A misdemeanor to disseminate revenge porn, providing prosecutors with the tools necessary to punish those who engage in this type of reprehensible behavior. Additionally, New York will become the first state in the nation to allow victims to seek a court-ordered injunction to require websites to remove the offending images,” said Braunstein.

The northeast Queens lawmaker introduced the bill in 2013 to keep up with people’s 21st-century photo-sharing habits of decimating intimate images by phone and online.

In February 2019, Cuomo and the state Legislature voted in favor of the bill.

“Thank you to Governor Cuomo for signing this important measure into law. I would also like to express my gratitude to Carrie Goldberg, a victims’ rights lawyer, as well as Sanctuary for Families, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and the Cyber Sexual Abuse Task Force, for their tireless advocacy on this issue,” Braunstein said.

The Assembly unanimously passed the bill last year, while it failed to pass in the then-Republican Senate. According to QNS, the Senate did not bring the bill to the floor despite alleged pressure from the Internet Association and Google.

“Our laws have not kept pace with technology and how abusers can use it to harass, intimidate and humiliate intimate partners,” Cuomo said. “By criminalizing the publication of revenge porn, we are empowering victims of this heinous act to take action against their abusers and showing them a path to justice.”

Councilman Rory Lancman passed a similar bill in the City Council back in 2017. At the city level, violators can face up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.

“As part of our Women’s Justice Agenda, we are focused on changing a culture that enables sexism and violence against women,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “This legislation ensures New Yorkers are not victims of nonconsensual release of intimate images, empowering them to take action to remove images from the Internet and subject abusers to jail time. This is another important step in our overall goals to achieve true social, economic, racial and gender justice once and for all.”

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