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Michigan Legislature Takes Aim at Revenge Porn

This May, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a series of bills aimed at preventing the practice of posting sexually explicit photos of a person online without their consent. Commonly known as "revenge porn," this often occurs after a romantic relationship comes to a turbulent end.

These photos spread quickly on the internet, from websites and forums especially designed for this purpose to general pornography websites that are unaware of the nature of the photos. The presence of these photos online can not only cause significant emotional harm to the person in the photos, but can also have severe consequences for the person's career. For example, if the person is Googled prior to a job interview, the results may include the sexually explicit photos that were distributed without the person's consent.

The bills are currently awaiting Governor Snyder's signature. If they become law, a penalty of a $500 fine and up to 93 days in jail may be imposed for a first offense of posting sexually explicit photos "with the intent to threaten, coerce, or intimidate." A higher penalty of a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail may be imposed for a second offense. Michigan would join the 27 states that already have laws in place penalizing revenge porn.

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