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California often leads the way when it comes to passing the initial laws on a particular unregulated subject. It is doing so again with the passage of a law outlawing the practice of revenge porn posting online.On October 3, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 255 into law with immediate effect. While producing good publicity for the Governor and the bill sponsors, critics are lining up to ridicule the law.Revenge PornRevenge porn has nothing to do with the traditional pornography industry. Instead, it is the act of a person posting an intimate photo of another person on a revenge porn website for the public to see. Practically speaking, this usually occurs as a measure of revenge after a relationship has ended and one party is seeking to hurt the other. CriticismsEric Goldman, a law professor specializing in internet law matters, points out the new revenge porn law passed by California is woefully inadequate in that it excludes photographs taken by the person depicted in the image. For example, the law does not cover a photo taken by a young lady of herself nude, which she then sends to a boyfriend who later posts it on the web after the relationship has failed.This may seem a small thing, but these photos known as “selfies” make up the majority of online revenge porn cases. The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a non-profit group fighting abuse, ran a survey that returned the very stunning fact that roughly 80 percent of all revenge porn photos are selfies. This suggests California’s new law is ineffective for the vast majority of the revenge porn cases that occur online.In his Forbes article, Goldman further notes the law requires both parties must have agreed the photo was to remain private. This presents a massive hurdle for prosecutors to overcome given they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person who distributed the photo realized it was to remain private. If the person does not testify, the only evidence of such intent would be an email or text message to that extent. Without such objective evidence, the chances of a successful prosecution drop dramatically.Is the new California revenge porn law a step in the right direction? It is filled with so many loopholes that one has to say no since only perhaps 5 to 10 percent of cases could be successfully pursued by prosecutors. The best that can be said for this legislation is it represents a law made with good intentions and, perhaps, can be amended to meet those intentions more effectively.

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