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Revenge porn law is powerful weapon

March 5, 2019 12:58 am Updated: March 5, 2019 12:58 am

In October 2018, a federal district court in California ordered a man to pay $6.45 million in damages after he was accused of spreading an ex-girlfriend’s naked pictures and videos online, according to CNNBusiness.com.

It’s believed to be the second-largest payout for a victim of revenge porn who was not a celebrity, according to the woman’s lawyers, who were quoted in the CNNBusiness.com report.

The unnamed woman, who was listed as Jane Doe in legal filings, sued the man, David Elam II, in civil court. She alleged copyright infringement, online impersonation with intent to harm, stalking and the intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to the report.

The case, which was filed in 2014, also underscores how complicated it can be to seek justice.

This should not happen in New York as Gov. Andrew Cuomo contemplates signing into law a bill passed in the Assembly and Senate making it illegal to disseminate or publish intimate images or videos of individuals without their consent.

If New York passes its legislation — and we can see no reason not to enact it — it will become one of a patchwork of state laws. Unbelievable as it sounds, there is no federal law against revenge porn. Criminal cases are far and few between.

That, too, should change in New York. Under the new legislation, victims of revenge porn will get the opportunity to pursue a criminal case, a civil case or both.

The governor and state lawmakers have to engage in a no-holds-barred fight for the right to privacy. We live in the age of social media but, as with all modern technology, the components of social media are open to abuse and exploitation. If an adult and, in a few cases, a child or adolescent, with a grudge posts naked pictures to get even with ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends, it can cause irreparable harm and damage their lives and reputations.

If people are willing to stoop to that, the governor and lawmakers have to push back with all their strength. The revenge porn law will enable this. It can safeguard or shield the privacy of all New York’s citizens.