Should NH pass nonconsensual pornography bill?

Mar 23, 2016

BY: Citizens Count

Concerns have been raised recently in several states, including New Hampshire, about the phenomenon of “revenge porn”, or the sharing, selling or otherwise distributing sexual or intimate images of another person without their consent. Examples of nonconsensual pornography include posting sexually explicit images of another person online or sharing them through social media apps without that person’s permission.

Earlier this month, the governor of Arizona signed a measure that explicitly criminalizes the activity, joining over two dozen other states which have passed similar laws.

A move to do the same is currently underway in New Hampshire. SB 465 would make it a crime to maliciously distribute private images of another person where ‘intimate parts’ are exposed or the person is engaging in a sexual act. This includes images that were initially taken with the subject’s consent, but where consent was not given for sharing or distribution.

Violations of the law would constitute a class B felony offense, entailing fines and possible jail time. The bill passed the Senate and is now being considered by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Currently, New Hampshire law does not address consent regarding the distribution of sexually explicit images of adults.

However, nonconsensual distribution of sexually intimate images can ruin a victim’s life, with effects from workplace discrimination to increased risk of suicide.

At a Senate hearing in January, one victim described how a colleague quickly used her phone without her knowledge, and found and sent nude pictures of the victim to himself. Despite the clear violation of privacy, the state was unable to prosecute the case under current law.

Opponents point out that victims of nonconsensual pornography may already sue offenders for compensation, and a felony-level offense is excessive.

"Shouldn't personal responsibility come into play here?" Ian Freeman testified at a Senate hearing. "I mean, if you don't want your image to be distributed without your consent, don't get naked in front of a camera."

On the other end of the spectrum, some argue that the law should include "reckless" dissemination of sexual images, not just "intentional," and any lawbreakers should have to register as sex offenders.

UPDATE: Read our Citizen Voices℠ report and find out where New Hampshire stands on this issue.

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