Bill Would Make Forwarding Nude Photos A Felony

February 07, 2014

Arizona lawmakers are attempting to crack down on what is called "revenge porn."

They’re targeting people who decide to put a naked picture of someone else on the world wide web without the permission of, and many times over the objections of, the person in the photo. 

State Rep. J.D. Mesnard says it’s a complex issue, because in many cases the photos that end up online were taken with the consent of the person in the photo, possibly by a spouse or loved one.

“Sadly, 50 percent of marriages end in divorce,” Mesnard said. “And then what happens at that point? It was okay then? But now the marriage has ended, and maybe badly, so now someone wants to hurt somebody else?”

Another way the photos get out is what’s known as sexting, or sending naked pictures to someone else over a smartphone, that is then shared with others. Mesnard’s bill would make felons of those who share the photos in either circumstance.

State Rep. Martin Quezada says he understands going after the person who knowingly sends the photo without permission.

“What about that second relay, that person that receives that image and never has an opportunity to get the consent and doesn't realize they received it without consent?” Quezada said.

Quezada says making felons of those people raises First Amendment issues. Mesnard says he’s willing to consider amendments to narrow the scope of the bill but dismisses concerns about infringing on an individual’s rights, saying the Founding Fathers didn’t conceive of smartphones, among many things. The measure won the unanimous approval of the House Judiciary Committee.