ALBANY (WENY) – New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed two pieces of legislation Wednesday which aim to increase online safety, including establishing punishable offenses for so-called “revenge-porn.”
The first measure (S.623/A.2206) creates a task force to explore and address the impacts of cyber-bullying. The task force will determine the prevalence of cyber-bullying, make recommendations on how to prevent it, and identify the ways in which the state can be a resource in assisting adults and children who are victims of such bullying. This also extends to children who experience bullying outside of a school setting.
The next piece of legislation (S.2956A/A.324) expands the definition of coercion to include the production and distribution of intimate images. This amendment will hold individuals who coerce another person into producing or distributing intimate images under threat of physical or emotional harm accountable under the law.
“Abusers must be held accountable, and as technology evolves so too must our laws. In signing this legislation, Governor Hochul is helping us keep our Internet safe and free from coercion for all users, especially for vulnerable members of our community like minors,” said Senator Samra Brouk.
Senator Todd Kaminsky said, “Cyberbullying is a serious issue across our State — and we need a plan to stop it. Thanks to Governor Hochul for signing my bill which will not only create a task force to study this menace to our teens, but will also help foster solutions to help end this crisis, which has plagued far too many individuals of all ages across Long Island and the State as a whole,” Senator Todd Kaminsky stated in news release.
“Sexual extortion and coercion is a growing form of abuse, proliferating with the accessibility and growth of technology and social media. Criminalizing coerced and extorted sexually explicit images is another leading step forward by New York State and we hope other states will follow this model,” Deputy Legal Director and Senior Attorney for Legal Momentum Jennifer Becker stated.
“Many of the victims of sextortion—disproportionately young women—are targeted online and coerced into creating and sending sexual images, which can be the start of a long, harmful cycle of abuse. New Yorkers have a tool to hold offenders accountable thanks to Governor Hochul and the efforts of Senator Brouk and Assemblymember Zebrowski,” Becker’s statement continued.
Revenge porn is defined by Merriam-Webster as follows: a sexually explicit images of a person posted online without that person’s consent especially as a form of revenge or harassment.