Revenge Porn, Whether for Revenge or Not – A Criminal Offense


Check out Senate Bill 0924, which within 90 days of enactment will make posting sexually explicit photographs on line without permission and with the intent to harass, frighten, or intimidate a crime (a 93 day misdemeanor) in Michigan, as it is in many different states. A second violation results a 1 year misdemeanor.

The law’s reach will go further than “Revenge Porn” with the second part of the statute, which requires a person to remove a sexually explicit image of another person regardless of intent, upon the written request of that person. There is no time frame stated for the person to remove the image and no definition of what a “written request” is. Could it be an email that gets sent to someone’s trash folder? What if it is not removed in 5 minutes or 5 hours or 5 days?

The language of the statute, as passed by the senate says:

“A person shall not do either of the following: “post on the internet any sexually explicit photograph, or other visual image of another person with the intent to frighten, intimidate, or harass any person. “ Also “having posted on the internet any sexually explicit photograph, drawing, or other visual image of another person, regardless of whether the posting was with the intent to frighten, intimidate, or harass any person, refuse or fail to remove that explicit photograph, drawing, or other visual image from the internet upon the written request of that other person.”

There is an affirmative defense portion and a definition of “sexually explicit” which is important to understanding the law. According the statute, if certain parts of the body are not displayed, it is not sexually explicit, even if the person in the photograph feels uncomfortable with the photograph.

However, keep in mind that once someone posts a picture of another person on the Internet that is sexually explicit, the question then becomes what was the intent in doing so? The intent can be inferred from the circumstances. Usually, “my intent was to show her beauty to the world” is not something that will be accepted.

Prosecutors certainly intend go after these types of offenses and test the law out on people that may be in violation. This type of behavior has been used to threaten and intimidate people, but the law could also have unintended consequences.

If you are the victim of such behavior, this should be a relief to you. Because regardless of the intent, if you request in writing that the photograph be removed, it should be removed or the violator may face criminal sanctions.

Do you think this should be illegal? Let us know your thoughts.