Revenge porn bill unveiled after struggle to bring tech on board

Revenge porn bill unveiled after struggle to bring tech on board
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Lawmakers on Thursday unveiled legislation to make it a federal crime to share sexually explicit pictures of people without their permission. 

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierHouse Dems push to delay Kavanaugh vote for investigation Dems demand answers on Pentagon not recognizing Pride Month Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks MORE (D-Calif.) and a small group of Republicans and Democrats introduced their legislation to help crack down on so-called revenge porn.

The legislation was scheduled to be unveiled last summer, but it hit delays as lawmakers tried to bring major technology companies on board. 

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Twitter and Facebook eventually backed the bill, while Google is staying neutral, according to Speier. 

"Tech. It was tech," Speier told The Hill when asked who was the hardest constituency to bring on board. "I will say though that they recognized that there is a certain obligation to take down websites that are engaging in this kind of business."

Speier said she will quickly introduce the legislation next Congress if it fails to move in this cramped election-year schedule. 

"You can't really introduce something until it is done," she said. "And I wasn't going to introduce a half-baked piece of legislation. I wanted it to be as strong and bulletproof as possible. And it took awhile to get there."

The four-page bill would make it a federal crime to post online or distribute naked or sexually explicit images with “reckless disregard” for the lack of consent of the person in the photos or videos. The penalty would be fines and up to five years in prison.

About 35 states have enacted versions of similar legislation, but some have been challenged on First Amendment grounds. 

There are a number of exceptions in the bill, including the sharing of nude images of people who voluntarily posed in public or a commercial setting. The law will also not apply to images that are in the public interest. 

For the tech community, there is a safe harbor provision the prevents the law from being used against providers of "interactive computer services," which includes social media websites. Those providers are safe from the law as long as they don't promote or solicit those explicit images. 

Many of the largest names in tech have dedicated teams to respond to reports of revenge porn being posted on their sites. Facebook, along with Google, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tumblr and Yahoo, have worked with California's attorney general to outline a series of best practices to remove the content. 

Other lawmakers who signed onto the bill include: Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.).