Remove "Intent to Harm" from NY's Revenge Porn Laws

Remove "Intent to Harm" from NY's Revenge Porn Laws

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Paige Levy started this petition to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

In July of 2019, New York implemented a landmark law that criminalized the dissemination or publication of intimate images. The law was considered a victory for victims, but it came with a catch— the images had to be proven to be sent with malicious or harmful intent in order to be considered criminal. 

Contrary to its name, "revenge porn" is often not shared as revenge. According to a 2017 study conducted by the research team at the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, 79% of perpetrators of nonconsensual porn reported having sent the photos as impersonal entertainment. Only 12% of the sample reported having sent the photos with an intent to harm the subjects. The current laws leave the majority of victims entirely unprotected. These victims include:

  • Jennifer Lawrence, Gabrielle Union, and other female celebrities who had their nudes disseminated in 2014. Because the hacker claimed to bear no personal ill-will against the women, the current New York laws would not protect them. 
  • The more than 2 dozen female Marines who had hundreds — possibly thousands — of naked photographs shared in a Facebook group of hundreds of Marines. The members of that group were sharing the photos for their own entertainment, meaning that the current New York laws would not protect these women. 
  • The THOUSANDS of New Yorkers who became victims that attempted to find justice at law firms in the time spent pleading for the law. The majority could not find help then, and the majority now would still be unable to. The current laws would still not offer the protection they need.

If the law focused on the violation of a victim's sexual privacy as it ought to, the intent of the sender would be irrelevant. However, the law as it stands protects perpetrators and tech companies (who are the main supporters of the "intent to harm" stipulation) than those who have experienced this situation. Intent does not impact the extreme emotional duress nonconsensual porn has on the subject. Intent does not change the emotional and financial burden placed on victims who are in a position to take on an extraordinarily difficult to win civil suit- the only option available to most. In most cases, the idea of moving on and letting the perpetrator off without punishment is preferable to the strain a lawsuit would present, especially with such a low chance of winning. The current laws provide nothing but false hope to the majority of victims of this crime, and little deterrent for would-be violators. That is not justice. The laws must change. 

In order to create a truly just law, New York must follow the precedent set by other states, such as Iowa and Illinois, and remove the intent to harm clause in our revenge porn law. The legal system must place more emphasis on protecting the victims' sexual privacy rather than the perpetrators' actions. No matter what the assailant's intention was, it cannot and does not justify the violation of the victim's body. By adding your name to this petition, you are fighting to ensure that New York State's nonconsensual porn laws protect those affected, regardless of whether the sharer of the photos intended to exploit their bodies for revenge or entertainment.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!