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Kadner: Make ‘revenge porn’ a crime, state Sen. Michael Hastings says

State Sen. Michael Hastings (D-OrlHills)  |  File photo

State Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Orland Hills) | File photo

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Updated: March 3, 2014 2:30PM



Posting a nude photo or video of an ex-lover online after a break-up would be a felony under a new law proposed by state Sen. Michael Hastings.

The legislation proposed by Hastings, D-Orland Hills, would make revenge porn a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to three years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

The law would target people who knowingly post explicit images or video of a person to the Internet, without the person’s knowledge or consent, for pornographic purposes, according to Hastings.

“The law has failed to keep up with changes in technology, and this is something that has destroyed lives,” he said. “People have lost their jobs or committed suicide after someone has posted a sexually explicit image of them online.”

Hastings said that as a board member of Consolidated High School District 230, he became aware of the impact of cyber-bullying on the lives of children, “and this is just another form of that in my opinion.”

New Jersey and California are the only states that have laws against “revenge porn,” but Hastings’ law would be tougher than either of those.

For one thing, it would cover “selfies” — cellphone pictures that people take of themselves and send to someone else. Eighty percent of revenge porn victims took photos of themselves initially, according to an organization that campaigned on behalf of the California law.

“This legislation would cover any sexually explicit image that is disseminated on the Internet without the consent of the individual,” Hastings said.

He emphasized that his bill also would make it illegal for someone running a website to ask for money to remove a revenge porn image.

“There are many people who are running websites and asking for payment to remove a person’s private material or identifying information, which is posted without their consent or knowledge,” Hastings said.

He said Illinois law prohibits persons from posting identifying sexually explicit content of a minor, or an adult who does not consent, on a website deemed pornographic in nature. But it does not cover images spread through the Internet by people not deemed as purveyors of pornography.

Of course, there’s another solution to this growing problem.

Don’t ever allow anyone to take naked photographs of you in compromising positions!

And, for mercy’s sake, don’t take them yourself and send them to others.

Anyone who dared say something like that during the revenge porn debate in California was branded as callous and sexist.

“You’re just blaming the victim of the crime,” folks said.

Well, yes. That said, I realize we have entered an era unlike any in human history.

I guess it is insensitive to blame a man for transmitting images of his private parts to a co-worker as a romantic gesture if it later turns up on the Internet for his wife to see.

And there are lots of happily married people who take provocative images of themselves and transmit them to a spouse traveling on business as a reminder of what they’re missing back home.

It apparently never occurs to such people that they might someday file for divorce, resulting in that image being transmitted throughout cyberspace.

More significant, young people in lust today frequently share photos of themselves that only would have been available in an adult book store back in grandpa’s day.

Hastings said that he’s willing to negotiate, to a point, on the wording of his bill.

“I’m always willing to listen and consider the ideas of any interested parties on any piece of legislation that I sponsor,” he said.

As a West Point cadet, Hastings, 33, said, he interned at the National Security Agency, and “I learned there that anything that is posted on the Internet lives forever. It never disappears. As a younger legislator, I feel I have a better understanding of the problems created by electronic technology than many of my colleagues.”

Hastings suggested that it might be helpful if parents and school officials emphasized to young people the dangers of posting personal items about themselves on the Internet. The problem is they are kids, and children often believe that bad things can’t happen to them.

The amazing thing is that a lot of this stuff isn’t happening to teens but adults who ought to know better.

There are going to be real problems with enforcing any law against revenge porn.

For example, if a guy takes a naked photo of himself and sends it unsolicited to a woman to impress her and she sends it on to a friend for a laugh and that friend sends it to everyone on her email list and it eventually ends up on the Web, who’s to blame?

The Chicago chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union released the following statement in response to Hasting’s bill:

“We recognized the embarrassment, shame and damage to one’s reputation that can result from non-consensual publication of intimate photos and videos. While this measure seeks to criminalize this conduct, Illinois civil law already provides a remedy, including the removal of the offending image. The (ACLU) of Illinois hopes that legislators will examine these civil remedies before adopting criminal penalties.”

The problem with lawsuits is they cost money most people don’t have and can take a long time to resolve.

Clarification: Orland Fire Protection District Chief Ken Brucki called to say the district’s pension fund is 100 percent financed. Cook County property tax bills sent this week make it appear that the district did not comply with the county’s request for financial data. But Brucki said he believes all information was sent and the district will send detailed financial information to its taxpayers to make sure they understand it.



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