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Law Professor Helps Craft Groundbreaking Internet Safety Bill

Danielle Citron, JD, the Lois K. Macht Research Professor of Law at the UM Carey School of Law, has assisted in crafting a new bill that would make so-called 'revenge porn'--the nonconsensual disclosure of sexually explicit pictures and videos--a crime in Maryland. The bill was announced at a news conference on Oct. 30 at the UM Carey School of Law.

The bill, which will be introduced in the Maryland General Assembly by Delegate Jon Cardin, JD '01, MA, MPS, a UM Carey Law alumnus, was presented at UM Carey Law's Nathan Patz Law Center. Annmarie Chiarini, a victim advocate with the Cyber Civil Rights Coalition who was subjected to cyber sexual harassment that included the posting of compromising pictures and confidential information over the Internet, also spoke at the news conference.

"'Revenge porn' is a treacherous form of online harassment," said Citron, who has written extensively about privacy and the Internet. "It's emotionally devastating for its victims." Perpetrators of 'revenge porn' not only post sexually compromising images, they also post victims' home and work addresses along with other confidential information, noted Citron.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 850,000 people in 2006 experienced some form of online stalking with a "significant" online component. A 2012 Pew Research Center survey reported that one in four adults age 18 to 24 received suggestive photos or videos.

Sharing explicit images without someone's consent is not only humiliating to individuals, it also hurts their chances of employment because employers may not want to risk hiring someone who has had compromising pictures posted online.ý "It's not worth the employer's reputation cost," said Citron. Eighty percent of employers use a Google search to screen potential employees, added Citron, citing a Microsoft survey. More than 50 sites are available to take down explicit photos for a fee.

Victim advocate Chiarini agreed that the proposed bill is a long overdue step in protecting everyone's right to privacy.

"For months after I discovered that nude pictures of me and my personal identification were posted on the Internet, I was afraid to leave my house," she said. "My job was in jeopardy and my health deteriorated. I reached out to law enforcement officials for help and was told no crime had been committed."

"This bill is a huge step forward for Maryland," said Citron. "Criminal law should have a role in deterring and punishing 'revenge porn' because 'revenge porn' and its ilk raise the risk of offline stalking and physical attacks."

The bill would make it a felony to intentionally and publicaly disclose sexually explicit images of a person without their consent. The crime would be punishable by up to five years in prison or a $25,000 fine, or both. If passed, Maryland would be one of only three states to criminalize this form of cyber sexual harassment.








Posting Date: 10/30/2013
Contact Name: Jill Yesko
Contact Phone: 410-706-3803
Contact Email: jyesko@umaryland.edu