California outlaws ‘revenge porn’

California governor Jerry Brown has signed a first-of-its-kind state law criminalising what has become known as ‘revenge porn’, the distribution of private, explicit photos of other people on the internet, usually by ex-lovers or spouses, to humiliate them.

The measure, which passed both houses of the Democrat-led state legislature almost unanimously, makes it a crime for individuals to take and then circulate without consent such images online with the intent to harass or annoy. A conviction is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

It takes aim at an increasingly prevalent act of betrayal that typically occurs when a person posts nude images of a former romantic partner online as a way of exacting revenge after a break-up.

The images often end up proliferating on dozens of revenge porn websites that specialise in publishing such pictures, some of which charge the subjects fees to remove the offending material.

The only recourse victims have had was to pursue the perpetrators in court.

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