Posting 'revenge porn' photos could soon be a felony in Florida

Orlando State Senator says bill strikes First Amendment balance

Author: Mike Holfeld, Problem Solver, mholfeld@clickorlando.com
Published On: Dec 12 2013 11:15:00 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 13 2013 08:29:29 AM EST
Revenge porn
ORLANDO, FLA. -

State Senator David Simmons, of Orlando, filed legislation Thursday that would make posting “revenge porn” photos a third-degree felony.

[READ: Local 6's first 'Revenge Porn' report]

Simmons, a veteran attorney, says Florida law needs to catch up with technology to protect victims from “bad decisions” made during a relationship.

Simmons says women send intimate photographs to their boyfriend or spouse via smartphone, text or email. After a break-up, the photos, which were never deleted, are posted on websites that actually collect so-called "revenge porn" digital photographs.

Simmons argues the posts are a form of cyberstalking.

“Women’s lives have been destroyed or nearly destroyed,“ Simmons says. “It’s for the purpose of harassment and we need to make sure there is a law to deal with that.”

Simmons and Rep. Tom Goodson, of Titusville, have been looking at the Constitutional issues that the proposed law could challenge.

Goodson proposed legislation last session that acknowledged under the First Amendment “you still had the right to post the pictures."

In the Goodson bill, the violation came into play when the person’s identifiers -- name, phone number, email or home address -- was included in the post.

In Goodson’s view, that was going too far.

Goodson was first made aware of the revenge porn victims by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. In many cases, victims said perfect strangers saw the posts as an invitation for sex.

”They fly in from Europe, they call," Goodson told Local 6. “They get a hundred calls a day.  This is not just one person that might aggravate you, you get harassment worldwide because this (website posts) goes worldwide.”

Only New Jersey and California currently have legislation making revenge porn illegal.  However, legislators in several states, including New York and Delaware, are currently working to develop similar laws that would prosecute the people who post intimate photos of people without consent.

Simmons says he is confident Tallahassee lawmakers will support the measure because it meets the First Amendment standards.

“The bill addresses the delicate balance between the right of privacy and freedom of speech," Simmons said.

The bill is called Senate Bill 530 and it was filed on Thursday.