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Missouri panel considers 'revenge porn' bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Posting sexually explicit photos or video of a former lover online could land a person in prison, under a bill being considered by Missouri legislators.

The House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee held a hearing Thursday to consider the measure outlawing so-called revenge pornography, in which people post explicit material online to humiliate former romantic partners, often upending their lives in the process.

"If this happened to you, it would be devastating. It would be unbelievable," said Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, who sponsored the bill.

California and New Jersey have enacted such revenge porn laws and other states, including Pennsylvania and Virginia, are also considering doing so. In December, a California man was hit with 31 felony charges for operating a revenge porn site.

Missouri's bill would seek to prohibit someone from observing and then disclosing photos or videos of intimate sexual acts without the other person's consent, or distributing explicit images in cases where there was an expectation of privacy. The images used can be obtained consensually during a relationship or can be stolen or hacked from online accounts.

Disclosing the explicit images would be considered a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

Over 70 percent of revenge porn victims are women, said Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland who has written about the issue.

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