Revenge porn bill passes Senate

Published 12:01 am Saturday, February 16, 2019

Sen. Sally Doty’s legislation that targets “sextortion” and “revenge porn” passed the Senate Thursday and now goes to the House for more debate.

The measure would create penalties and liability for sharing intimate visual material of another person.

“This bill provides a civil cause of action, injunctive relief or criminal penalties for sharing intimate pictures or video online without consent,” Doty said when she filed the bill previously.

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Sextortion is defined as blackmail in which sexual information or images are used to extort sexual favors and/or money from the victim.

“For example, a blackmailer might assume the identity of an attractive man or woman online, then after gaining the victim’s trust, will record footage of the victim in the nude or performing a sexual act,” Doty said. “The blackmailer threatens to circulate this footage to the victim’s friends or post it online unless a certain amount of money is paid or other sexual images produced.”

Revenge porn involves intimate photos or videos taken or shared with consent with the expectation of privacy.

“Then they are posted online or shared publicly,” she said. “The increases in technology require that our laws keep up with these types of issues. The public release of intimate photographs can have such a devastating effects and my goal with this bill is to punish offenders and prevent these instances from happening in the first place.”

The bill would allow a claimant who has won a lawsuit to be awarded damages, court costs and attorney’s fees.

Thursday was the deadline for the Mississippi House and Senate to act on general bills originating in their own chamber. Bills that survived are moving to committees in the opposite chamber for more work. Tax and spending bills face later deadlines. Other bills still alive include:

• House Bill 1249 would retroactively allow Lincoln County to pay for premium insurance payments for county employees’ dependents. The legislation would get supervisors out of trouble with Auditor Shad White, who has demanded they repay $1.6 million for  improper insurance payments on behalf of dependents.

“Yes, it appears that that legislation, if signed into law, would mean the supervisors would no longer be liable for those types of insurance expenditures,” White said.

• Senate Bill 2770 would increase public school teacher salaries by $500 a year over two years, for a total of $1,000.

• House Bill 1352 would ease penalties on some Mississippians accused or convicted of crimes. It also would expand drug courts to handle people with mental illnesses and military veterans. And, it would stop automatic suspension of driver’s licenses for nonpayment of fines or for simple drug possession.

• House Bill 732 and Senate Bill 2116 would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which could be as early as six weeks.

• Senate Bill 2901 would limit reasons that property owners could be sued for something that happens on their property.

• House Bill 571 would prevent charges from being filed against trafficking victims who are younger than 18. The minor would be taken into protective custody and counseling would be provided. Foster parents would be trained to help trafficking victims.

  Senate Bill 2827 would give some elected county officials a raise, financed by higher fees for filing legal documents and court cases.

Sen. Sally Doty