Politics Blog

Washington House unanimously passes revenge porn bill

Victims of revenge porn might soon be able to sue the person who posted intimate pictures of them online and hold them accountable.

The Washington state House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 2160 on March 2, to allow victims to seek civil liability.

For those who don’t know, revenge porn refers to intimate pictures of someone that are posted online without their consent, usually to shame or humiliate them. Oftentimes people consensually take the images and give them to someone – a boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse, etc. – but not with the intent that that person will later post them online.

“People are very seriously harmed when they become victims of revenge porn,” Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, said in a news release. “Images on the Internet can live forever. They can affect somebody’s livelihood, their relationships, their families, and it’s not right.”

Wylie, the bill’s prime sponsor, thanked Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, for sponsoring another bill, HB 1272, which would make disclosing intimate pictures a class C felony. His bill could go to the floor for a vote this week.

Under 2160, anyone who posts revenge porn would be liable for up to $10,000 or actual damages, whichever is greater.

From the news release:

“Under Wylie’s bill, a person is liable for distributing an intimate image of another intentionally and without consent when:

• The image was entrusted by another person, in the understanding that it should remain private, and its reckless or intentional distribution causes the person pictured emotional distress; or

• The image was knowingly obtained without authorization or by exceeding authorized access from the other person’s property, accounts, messages, files, or resources.”