Drury revenge porn bill passes House 110-2

State Rep. Scott Drury’s bill to make “revenge porn” a criminal offense received bipartisan support in the Illinois House of Representatives, where it was approved on a vote of 110-2 in late March.

“Revenge porn” refers to the posting or disseminating of nude or sexually explicit videos or photos of another person without his or her consent. Drury (D-Highwood) says revenge porn has become a growing epidemic as former lovers post embarrassing photographs and videos in an effort to humiliate a lover after a bitter breakup.

His House Bill 4320 would make the dissemination of sexually explicit, identifiable images without consent a Class 3 felony.

“Revenge porn is being used to ruin people’s lives,” said Drury, a former assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted sex crimes. “This law protects potential victims and allows law enforcement to punish those who engage in this hateful conduct.”

The bill picked two dozen co-sponsors, including State Representatives Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) and Laura Fine (D-Glenview).

The bill has been sent to the Illinois Senate, where another revenge porn measure, Senate Bill 2694, passed that chamber on a 52-0 vote in late February. That bill was sponsored by State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Orland Park).

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois believes criminalizing revenge porn amounts to censorship and an infringement on free speech. The organization has urged lawmakers to examine the available civil remedies before enacting criminal penalties.

“We recognize that embarrassment, shame and damage to one’s reputation can result from the non-consensual publication of intimate photos and videos,” said Ed Yohnka, communications director of the ACLU of Illinois, in a statement responding to Hastings’ bill. “While this measure seeks to criminalize this conduct, Illinois civil law already provides a remedy, including the removal of the offending image.”

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