'Revenge porn' now illegal in California

Ex-partners who post nude images of others could face fines and up to six months in jail

California has banned so-called 'revenge porn' to ensure those who post indecent pictures of others without permission will face fines and even jail sentences.

State Governor Jerry Brown passed the Senate Bill 255 on Tuesday, making it illegal to post identifiable nude pictures of another online without their consent or with the intent of causing emotional distress. Those convicted of such an offence could receive up to six months in prison and a $1,000 (£617) fine.

The bill states that anyone who suffers “serious emotional distress” as a result of having their image circulated would constitute “disorderly conduct”, making the perpetrator “subject to that same punishment”.

Prior to the bill, residents in California could only sue those who posted images of them after the event in a costly and lengthly legal process.

Revenge porn has become a rapidly growing problem as the number of people active on social media continues to rise. Websites such as Is Anyone Up, which no longer operates, allowed site visitors to upload pictures of others, often of ex-partners, or people who have participated in 'sexting' and sent nude or sensitive pictures of themselves to another.

Pictures taken from Snapchat, which allows users to send photos to others that self destruct after a few seconds, have often resurfaced on revenge porn sites after recipients have screen-grabbed photos, allowing them to save the image.

“Until now, there was no tool for law enforcement to protect victims,” the bill's author, Sen. Anthony Cannella, said in a statement. “Too many have had their lives upended because of an action of another that they trusted.”

Widely publicised campaigns have long called for revenge porn to be made an offence, including EndRevengePorn.org led by Holly Jacobs, who started the site after her ex boyfriend published explicit pictures and photos of her on the internet.

The American Civil Liberties Union had opposed the bill, arguing it might restrict free speech rights - a concern also shared by other states across America.

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