Indiana lawmakers fight back against revenge porn

Local News

The wild wild web is a wonderful, yet terrifying technology for many. It is a simple way to share pictures, but it can lead to the downfall of a lifetime.

Legislators at the Indiana Statehouse are fighting against digital payback. A proposed law could make it a crime to send an intimate picture that isn’t yours, and another could help victims get cash as retribution.

The two bills in Indianapolis have almost unanimous approval in the House of Representative and Senate.

Experts say revenge porn is ruining people’s lives. According to cybercivilrights.org, 41 states have a law to protect victims, including Kentucky and Illinois – but not Indiana.

Holly Edmond, a victim’s right advocate at Holly’s House says the internet can be dangerous. “It’s basically a weapon against people.”

The Hoosier state has no protection for victims of revenge porn. House Bill 1333 and Senate Bill 192 may help change that.

“It might give some people a second thought a little bit, because now there’s a slight deterrent,” said Amy Wilkerson, with Albion Fellows Bacon Center.

The House of Representatives passed a proposed law with a 95-0 vote that makes sharing intimate photos online a crime. On first offense it’s a misdemeanor, after that, it’s a level-6 felony.

“When pictures like that go onto the internet it takes a while to rebuild your reputation,” Edmond said.

The Senate bill, passed last month with a 41-1 vote, would make the penalty for posting pics up to $10,000 while giving victims the opportunity to sue.

Advocates say it’s a just price to pay because the long-term damage of revenge porn can be extreme. Wilkerson says depression, anxiety, and PTSD have been reported in revenge porn cases.

“We have in fact seen sometimes people have taken their own life because of it,” Wilkerson added.

On top of these bills, Wilkerson says education is important. Teach your kids about boundaries online and what should and shouldn’t be posted.

“I think it happens more than we know,” Edmond said. “As a parent myself, I’m petrified of my children being on the internet.”

Experts believe this kind of intimate crime often goes unreported. They feel embarrassed or ashamed, but lawmakers hope soon, it’s not victims who are afraid.

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This story was originally published on March 1, 2019

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