Senate panel approves ‘cyber revenge’ bills

LANSING—Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sens. Rick Jones and Steven Bieda to criminalize “cyber revenge” was approved on Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Cyber revenge, also known as revenge porn, is the distribution of sexually graphic images of an individual without their consent, as well as posting online images originally obtained with consent within the context of a private relationship.

“Revenge porn isn’t about art or speech or even sex – it’s about using the power of the Internet to destroy someone’s life,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Cracking down on cyber revenge will help stop former lovers from taking images captured in trust and using them to intimidate or harass their ex-partners.

“This proposal would also apply to hackers who steal personal images and then post them online or send them to a victim’s family or co-workers.”

Senate Bills 924 and 925 would make it illegal in Michigan to post any sexually explicit image on the Internet without that person’s written permission. Under the measures, first-time offenders would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of $500 or both. Subsequent violations could result in a year in prison, a $1,000 fine or both.

“Explicit photographs of an individual published on a website, where millions of people can view it, can turn their humiliation into a public commodity that devastates lives,” said Bieda, D-Warren. “We must address the issue now, and I look forward to seeing the Senate swiftly act on this important legislation.”

SBs 924-925 now head to the full Senate for consideration.