John Oliver calls for ‘revenge porn’ laws

HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver on Sunday night endorsed federal legislation to crack down on so-called revenge porn, in which a person’s intimate images are posted online without consent. 

He addressed online harassment and revenge porn during a 16-minute segment on Sunday, saying “this situation is insane.”

“Nowadays you can click a button and buy a book, meet your spouse or ruin someone’s life. Sometimes those last two are the same click,” he said on the show. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“And as for revenge porn, we’re going to need some new laws,” he added at another point. 

Oliver has highlighted a number of technology policy issues in the past year, including net neutrality, patent reform and government surveillance. 

He specifically touted forthcoming legislation in Congress called the Intimate Privacy Protection Act that would make posting revenge porn a federal crime, and would put companies like Google, Facebook and other social media sites on the hook if they do not remove the photos when asked. The legislation would exempt sites that are unaware the content is posted.

“And also the law would carve out exceptions for the ‘bona fide public interest’ meaning that if say a public figure like Anthony Weiner texted his penis around, we could all still enjoy that story,” Oliver joked.  

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierJimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 75th anniversary, longest-married presidential couple Military braces for sea change on justice reform House panel plans mid-July consideration of military justice overhaul MORE (D-Calif.) is in the final stages of drafting legislation. In a statement Friday, she said U.S. laws “haven’t yet caught up with this crime.”

“We already punish the unauthorized disclosure of private information like medical records and financial identifiers. Why should personal images of one’s naked body, given in confidence, be any different?” she asked. 

A couple dozen states have already implemented laws against posting revenge porn. However, civil liberties groups have sued over at least one law in Arizona because the law's vagueness potentially violates the First Amendment. The federal legislation attempts to address that with the public interest exemption. 

Sites like Twitter and Reddit have vowed to honor users’ requests to remove these type of photos. And on Friday Google announced a change of policy to do the same.