Lawmakers weigh revenge porn today


Hawaii legislators will vote on a bill today that will make it a felony to post a photograph of an individual in the nude without their permission.

HB 1750, introduced by 13 state legislators, three of whom represent the Big Island, will make it illegal for a person to install or use a device in a private place without the consent of another person for the purpose of observing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting another person in a stage of undress or sexual activity.

It will also make it illegal to disclose an image or video of another person either in the nude or engaging in sexual conduct without the consent of the depicted person with the intent to harm the other individual.

The measure has been referred to as the “Revenge Porn Bill.”

According to www.endrevengeporn.org, a campaign organized by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative that provides support and advocacy for victims of revenge porn, the phrase refers to a form of sexual assault that involves the distribution of nude or any sexually explicit photographs and/or videos of an individual without their consent.

The group says revenge porn is sometimes referred to as cyber-rape or non-consensual pornography, and is usually posted by a jilted ex-lover or friend in order to seek revenge after a relationship has ended.

Rep. Clift Tsuji, D-South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown, was one of the Big Island sponsors of HB 1750, along with Reps. Cindy Evans, D-North Kona and Kohala, and Faye Hanohano, D-Puna.

Tsuji said he has a personal connection to the measure after a distant relative from the West Coast reached out to him for help.

“Why did she call me? Because her boyfriend who she split up with lives on Kauai and there’s been threats of this type of exposure,” he said. “She asked about the laws and I said I didn’t know too much and I would research and I would work with our legal department and prosecutors.”

Before HB 1750 was proposed, there had not been any legislation in place for such a violation, and Tsuji said he was pleased to see the bill receive support.

“I’m very happy this legislation passed through Congress and that the violation of privacy for this type of violation is a violation in the first degree, which is a class C felony,” he said.

Tsuji isn’t the only individual pleased to see HB 1750 make headway.

Kris Coffield, a representative from IMUAlliance, a nonpartisan political advocacy organization that, according to their website, works for the protection of democratic ideals, eradication of socioeconomic inequality, advancement of educational opportunity and the animation of social critique, provided testimony on behalf of the bill.

Coffield said the measure really hits home for him.

“I’m a victim,” he said. “In 2006, one of my ex-girlfriends posted a picture of me in the nude on social media and it was very damaging and very personal and hurtful.”

Since then he’s become an advocate for those subjected to such types of cyber-bullying, saying it’s important to put the legislation in place for Hawaii citizens, especially to help protect the younger generation.

“Teenagers are very familiar with technology, but they don’t understand the full consequences of technology when it’s used inappropriately,” he said. “While many of us recall a time when the world wasn’t so interconnected, the younger people today have never lived in a time without it being connected and operating at a high pace.”

Coffield believes that HB 1750 will help deter such incidents in the future, and protect current revenge porn victims.

Coffield launched www.endrevengepornhawaii.com a week ago and said he’s already had 20-25 people visit the site and disclose themselves as victims.

He hopes that HB 1750 will be passed and help give current and future revenge porn victims a voice and legal backing.

If state legislators pass the bill, Hawaii will become the third state to have laws specific to revenge porn, joining the ranks of California and New Jersey.

Email Megan Moseley at mmoseley@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

Rules for posting comments