LANSING — Photo sharing with different websites and smart phone apps make it easy to share fun memories or goofy pictures, but it also has it’s risks. Celebrity nude photo leaks have been in the news on and off recently, but there are many uncountable victims of Cyber Revenge or Revenge Porn in our local communities, and finally Michigan lawmakers are taking a stand.
Snap – Click – Share…and just like that a photo is spread across the internet. Photo sharing is made simple now a days with smart phone apps like Snap Chat, Instagram and even Facebook… however what photos one posts isn’t the only concern, it’s also who the photos are shared with. Cyber Revenge – also known as Revenge Porn – is nonconsensual pornography where the recipient, typically an ex-partner or ex-significant other, posts the photo online to get back at the sender.
This week, Senate Bills 508 and 509 hit Governor Rick Snyder’s desk — bills that define Cyber revenge as a crime and what the punishment would be. Sen. Rick Jones (R – Grand Ledge) sponsored the bill after hearing the stories of many victims in Michigan.
Jones says, “I’ve been contacted by a student of MSU, a law student, her ex-boyfriend sent her photograph to all of her professors. A number of mothers have come to my office asking for help. Their daughters in high school made the mistake of letting the boyfriend take a picture, they broke up, he then posted it to get even and they ended up having to leave their schools. In fact their parents had to pay for expensive private schools so they could get their high school diploma.”
Under one of the bills, the punishment for a first time offense would be a $500 fine and possible jail time, and the punishment for a second offense would be a $1,000 fine and one year in jail. Local Representative John Kivela (D – Marquette) says it means a lot that it hit the governor’s desk in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“To me, when you look at what’s happening in society,” Kivela added, “with social media, all the different websites that are out there that that kind of prey on people for these, I think it was important that we took this step So I applaud all of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, that supported this.”
This bill hopes to prevent anyone from committing Cyber Revenge. As a former sheriff, Jones points out that the public, too, should focus on prevention by keeping personal pictures and information to themselves.
Kivela says that he hopes parents will become more involved in teaching their kids about cyber safety.