Florida 'Revenge Porn' Ban Bill Passes First Senate Hearing

A bill making so-called “revenge porn” illegal in Florida passed its first Senate committee Monday.

Florida ‘Revenge Porn’ Ban Bill Passes First Senate Hearing Altamonte Springs Republican Senator David Simmons’ bill initially made it a third degree felony for intentionally posting a sexually explicit image of someone on a website or social media site, like Facebook, without their consent. And, if the victim’s a minor, it’s a second degree felony.

But, he’s since changed it, at the request of Baker Republican Senator Greg Evers, the chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee whose committee heard the bill Monday.

“This is at the Chairman’s suggestion and recommendation, and that is the penalties to this crime be reduced to misdemeanors, and that’s what this does,” said Simmons.

But the Florida Sheriff’s Association opposed that change, which led to this exchange between Evers and the Association’s lobbyist Keri Rayborn Silver.

“The Florida Sheriff’s Association wants to thank Senator Simmons for bringing this good bill forward. We do have some concerns with the amendment. We feel it should stay a felony and not be taken to a misdemeanor,” said Rayborn Silver.

“That’s good, spit in the chair’s face. Go ahead,” said a laughing Evers.

“Well, we look forward to working with you chairman, and Senator Simmons as this bill moves forward,” continued Rayborn Silver.

Some lawmakers also raised questions about the provision enhancing the penalties if the victim is a minor. Under the new bill, any person age 18 and older could face a first degree misdemeanor if the victim is younger than 17. And, Jacksonville Democratic Senator Audrey Gibson says she’d like Simmons to consider raising the age of the offender.

“Certainly, understand the sensitivity of this particular issue, but I hope that Senator Simmons will look at perhaps moving the age to 19 and over, as opposed to 18. You know, some of our young people are not as mature as we would like them to be, and I would just hate for somebody to end up with a record and a challenged life because they made a silly mistake,” said Gibson.

Still, the measure passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously 6-0. Ten other states are considering similar statutes. So far, only New Jersey and California have such a law on the books.

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