Legislation that would criminalize "cyber revenge" was approved by a Michigan Senate panel on Tuesday.
Senate bills 924 and 925 are sponsored by Senator Rick Jones and Senator Steven Bieda.
Cyber revenge, also known as revenge porn, is the distribution of sexually graphic images of an individual without their consent, as well as posting online images originally obtained with consent within the context of a private relationship.
“Revenge porn isn’t about art or speech or even sex – it’s about using the power of the Internet to destroy someone’s life,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Cracking down on cyber revenge will help stop former lovers from taking images captured in trust and using them to intimidate or harass their ex-partners.
The proposal would also apply to hackers who steal personal images and post them online or send them to a victim's family or co-workers.
Under the legislation, first-time offenders would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of $500 or both. Subsequent violations could result in a year in prison, a $1,000 fine or both.
“Explicit photographs of an individual published on a website, where millions of people can view it, can turn their humiliation into a public commodity that devastates lives,” said Bieda, D-Warren. “We must address the issue now, and I look forward to seeing the Senate swiftly act on this important legislation.”
The bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.