U.S. News

Florida governor signs bill that outlaws online 'revenge porn'

Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott celebrates his re-election in a deadlocked race against Democrat Charlie Crist during a U.S. midterm elections night party with supporters in Bonita Springs, Florida, November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

TALLAHASSEE (Reuters) - Governor Rick Scott signed legislation Thursday making it illegal in Florida to post “revenge porn” on the Internet, joining more than a dozen other U.S. states.

The “sexual cyberharassment” bill that takes effect Oct. 1 makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail to transmit nude pictures with identifying information about the subject of the images, without that person’s consent.

Repeat offenses would be felonies, carrying penalties up to five years in prison.

With the addition of Florida, 17 states have adopted laws since 2013 against posting nude images or depictions of sexual activity without a person’s consent, according to the “End Revenge Porn” campaign organized by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

There are websites specializing in photos and videos of ex-lovers, and a state Senate staff analysis of the measure said some sites require payment to remove them.

The bill outlaws sexual cyberharassment, which it defines as distribution of any explicit image “that contains or conveys the personal identification information of the depicted person” without the person’s consent, for purposes of “causing substantial emotional distress.”

Victims may also sue for civil damages under the law.

Editing by David Adams and Eric Walsh