Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) on Tuesday released the following statement in response to the recent release of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative’s nationwide study of nonconsensual pornography, the first of its kind to look at both victimization and perpetration of these online attacks.
“This groundbreaking study is a wakeup call for Congress to finally take a stand against the destruction wrought by nonconsensual pornography (NCP) and it confirms what I have heard firsthand from numerous victims who have bravely spoken to me, and testified before Congress, in the effort to help pass legislation to combat the spread of NCP,” Rep. Speier said. “The numbers speak volumes; a staggering one-in-eight of the study’s participants reported they have been targeted as victims of NCP. And despite the devastation this conduct inflicts, 79 percent of the perpetrators admitted they did not intend to hurt their victims. This not only demonstrates why the term revenge porn is inaccurate, it proves why intent is immaterial to the harm caused by these violations. These harms include the destruction of careers and families and, in the worst cases, death by suicide. That is why I am reintroducing the Intimate Privacy Protection Act (IPPA) next week, to make it federal crime to post nonconsensual pornography and end this scourge once and for all.”
Rep. Speier is scheduled to reintroduce IPPA on June 19th. The bipartisan and bicameral bill would make it illegal for an individual to knowingly distribute sexually explicit material with reckless disregard for the victim’s lack of consent. The bill recognizes that the distribution of nonconsensual pornography is a privacy violation, as nonconsensual pornography is frequently not tied to motives of revenge or harassment. Examples of this would include recent cases of medical and law enforcement personnel sharing private images of vulnerable individuals for entertainment purposes.
IPPA also provides safe-harbor protections for online intermediaries dealing with third-party content, while allowing the prosecution of sites that actively promote or solicit nonconsensual pornography. The bill, unlike some of the existing state laws, contains explicit statutory protections for First Amendment rights. This means that any disclosure of private information that is public, voluntary, or in the bona fide public interest would not be criminalized.
Although 34 states have passed laws to address nonconsensual pornography, their approaches vary widely and are often flawed. A federal law is needed to provide a single, clear articulation of the elements of the crime and ensure that Americans in every part of the country have the means to protect themselves if they are subjected to such abuse. That is why IPPA has earned strong support from victims’ rights organizations, constitutional law experts, social media companies and online organizations, and Democratic and Republican Members of Congress in the House and Senate.