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Arizona "Revenge Porn" Bill Moves Forward

Arizona "Revenge Porn" Bill Moves Forward
By Kelvinsong via Wikimedia Commons

The Arizona House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would make it a felony to share someone else's nude pictures without his or her permission.

Although the lawmakers on the panel were generally supportive of the concept of House Bill 2515, there were a lot of concerns, like who exactly would be charged with a crime for sharing such images.

See also:
-Arizona Lawmakers Look to Criminalize "Revenge Porn"

Democratic Representative Martin Quezada said the bill doesn't appear to protect people who weren't the first to share the images. Representative Lupe Contreras, also a Democrat, wondered if this would result in a bunch of kids ending up with felonies on their records.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican Representative J.D. Mesnard, admitted those might be issues but said he's open to clarifying these concerns in the legislation.

Before this hearing, U of A law professor Derek Bambauer told New Times the bill is "almost certainly unconstitutional" on First Amendment grounds.

An example Bambauer provided was if a newspaper published picture of Monica Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton in a sex act, which would be a matter of public concern and protected by the First Amendment.

Mesnard acknowledged First Amendment concerns, and reiterated that he really has no problem with the wording of the legislation being changed.

"I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment; I don't think this is what our founding fathers had in mind when they put the First Amendment together -- obviously they didn't conceive of smartphones, among many other things," Mesnard said. "That being said, I'm happy to work with whomever it is, to address whatever concerns, to make sure this is criminalizing those who are the perpetrators -- those who are the bad guys that we want to stop."

Republican Representative Eddie Farnsworth suggested some fault lies with those who send out naked pictures of themselves, saying, "You can't absolve somebody of complete stupidity."

Mesnard countered, "I am not willing to judge what two people do in the context of a trusting relationship."

Despite some sort of objection from about half the committee, they all voted in favor of its passage.

Under the current language of the bill, sharing private nude photos without someone's written permission would be a class-five felony, and if the person in the photo is recognizable, it would be bumped up to a class-four felony.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.


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