'Revenge Porn' posts may be considered sexual harassment in Fla.

Simmons says bill strikes balance between right to privacy and freedom of speech

Author: Mike Holfeld, Problem Solver, mholfeld@clickorlando.com
Published On: Dec 13 2013 04:20:47 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 13 2013 06:32:10 PM EST
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ORLANDO, Fla. -

State Senator David Simmons of Orlando is launching a second legislative effort to make posting of so called “revenge porn” material on social networks a felony.

[READ: SB 532]

Simmons, a veteran attorney, says he’s convinced this measure will answer the first amendment concerns that stalled the measure last year.

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

Under Senate Bill 532, filed Thursday afternoon, a person would be charged with a felony if the nude material is posted without consent and is intended to harass the person in the pictures. The bill also mandates no contact with the victim for the duration of the conviction. Simmons bill also addresses age.

“An individual who is 18 years of age or older at the time he or she violates this section commits a felony of the second degree or if the violation involves a sexually explicit image of an individual who was younger than 16 years of age at the time the sexually explicit image was created."

Holly Jacobs, a Miami PHD, has been pushing for legislation that holds people accountable when they post a person’s intimate video or photos. Jacobs says her ex-boyfriend allegedly posted nearly forty nude and semi-nude photographs that she had shared with him during their long distance relationship.

“Of course it’s devastating, a tearful Jacobs said, you can’t even explain it.” Jacobs says she understands the concerns of first amendment advocates but she argues the act is essentially “technological rape.” Jacobs says lawmakers should be considering the emotional “ harm” the posts create.

Simmons argues the posts are a form of cyber- stalking. “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 the first amendment “you still had the right to post the pictures,” Goodson said. In the Goodson bill, the violation came into play when the person’s identifiers:Name, phone number, email or home address , were included in the post.

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 (web site 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.