A bill that would make it illegal to post nude photos or video of a person online without their consent passed the Kansas House on Monday.
It seeks to curb what’s known as “revenge porn,” in which people post naked photos or sex tapes on the Internet to embarrass or harass an ex-spouse, ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend. The material may have been obtained consensually within a relationship but is usually posted without permission after the relationship has ended.
“This is a new way to abuse people,” said Rep. Stephanie Clayton, R-Overland Park, who collaborated with Rep. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, on the legislation.
HB 2501 would allow the posting of revenge porn to be prosecuted under the state’s breach of privacy and blackmail laws. It passed by a vote of 113-11. All area lawmakers voted for it except Republicans Dan Hawkins, Mark Hutton and John Whitmer of Wichita and Marc Rhoades of Newton.
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A felony conviction of breach of privacy carries a presumptive punishment of up to 18 months’ probation for a first-time offense, while a felony blackmail charge would result in 38 to 43 months in prison for a first-time offense.
The penalties for revenge porn were added to the bill as an amendment by Carlin during a floor debate last week. She has pushed the issue since last year, when a constituent lost her job after her ex-husband posted nude photos of her online.
The underlying bill expands the definition of what constitutes a crime committed with an electronic device.
Twenty-six states have adopted measures criminalizing revenge porn. “It’s time that Kansas jump in,” Carlin said.
People locked in an abusive relationship can sometimes be coerced into taking nude photographs, and then the images are used to blackmail them, Clayton said, adding that the legislation offers protection against that.
“This is us keeping up with technology and helping to keep victims of this new insidious type of psychological violence safe,” she said.