Revenge Pornography Weekly Update: Online Safety Modernization Act

Revenge pornography legislation changes on a week-by-week basis. We will be tracking these updates, as well as notable progress made in revenge pornography cases, and sharing them weekly in this space. We'll be starting off with a few highlights from past weeks.

3 July 2017

On 27 June, U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, Susan Brooks of Indiana and Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania introduced the Online Safety Modernization Act. This bill would criminalize a wide range of cybercrimes at the federal level, including non-consensual pornography, doxxing, sextortion, and swatting. It would also establish a national resource center on cybercrimes.

As Congresswoman Brooks said, “The fact of the matter is, the laws governing sextortion, doxxing, and swatting were written when computers didn’t fit in our pockets, phones were plugged into walls, and texting required a stamp. In order to punish and prosecute these predators to the fullest extent of the law, we must bring our laws into the age of smartphones and SnapChat. The Online Safety Modernization Act gives local and federal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and victims the tools they need to go after these sexual predators and help victims seek justice.”

As Jon Martindale reports in Digital Trends, the bill has received bipartisan support in Congress and approval from the private sector, including from Facebook. Adi Robertson argues in The Verge that, while this bill may not be Congresswoman Clark’s first attempt to attack these crimes from the federal level, it is her most comprehensive. Congresswoman Clark, furthermore, understands the pain that cybercrimes can cause, having been a victim of swatting herself.

This bill would take important steps to fighting revenge porn, as well as related offenses like sextortion that often come part-in-parcel with revenge porn. It would, importantly, standardize key regulations across all 50 states in order to better protect victims.