Revenge porn, the act of sharing pornographic images of people online without their consent, is now a crime on eastern Long Island.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed a bill into law Monday that makes sharing revenge porn a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine.

“Smart phones and social media have ushered in a new era of photographing and videotaping that make it easier than ever to capture what should remain personal moments,” Bellone said. “However, sharing and distributing that content without consent is more than just an instance of poor judgment. It’s a criminal act that can have widespread implications affecting one’s life and mental health.”

Forty states, Washington, D.C., and New York City already have such laws on the books, but similar legislation stalled in the New York State Legislature.

In Suffolk’s law, violators will also be subject to civil judgments where they may be held liable for compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and more.

The nonprofit Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) estimates nearly half of young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 have sent nude or seminude photos of themselves to others; two thirds have received sexually explicit photos of others. Revenge porn occurs when these sexually explicit photographs are shared without individuals’ consent, including photographs taken without consent as well as images intended to be shared exclusively within personal relationships. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be victims of revenge porn.

“Victims of revenge porn are often embarrassed or afraid to come forward, but we know these crimes can lead to serious consequences for victims, such as cyberbullying, emotional distress and isolation, even suicide,” Suffolk County District Attorney Sini said. “With this legislation, we’re sending a message to victims that we are here to protect them and sending a message to would-be offenders that the act of disseminating someone else’s intimate images without their consent is, in fact, a crime.”

If someone may be a victim of revenge porn, please call the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at 631-853-5602 or email SCDAPhotoExtortion@suffolkcountyny.gov to report the incident.

 

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