LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a first-of-its-kind state law outlawing what has become known as revenge porn, the distribution of private, explicit photos or video of other people on the Internet to humiliate them.
The measure, which passed both houses of the Democratic-led state legislature almost unanimously last month, makes it a misdemeanor to circulate such images online, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for a first offense.
Signed into law late on Tuesday, the measure goes into effect immediately. 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 breakup.
The images often end up proliferating on dozens of revenge porn websites that specialize in publishing such pictures, some of which charge the subjects fees to remove the offending material. The only other recourse victims have had was to pursue the perpetrators in civil court.
“Until now, there was no tool for law enforcement to protect victims,” said the legislation’s chief sponsor, state Senator Anthony Cannella, a Republican from the Central Valley town of Ceres. “Too many have had their lives upended because of an action of another that they trusted.”