Danielle Citron, law professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, breaks down common arguments against the scourge that is “revenge porn” (nude or sexually explicit pictures of mostly young women posted on the Internet without their consent) and debunks them, using U.S. constitutional jurisprudence:
Some object to criminalizing invasions of sexual privacy because free speech will be chilled. That’s why it is crucial to craft narrow statutes that only punish individuals who knowingly and maliciously invade another’s privacy and trust. Other features of anti-revenge porn laws can ensure that defendants have clear notice about what constitutes criminal activity and exclude innocent behavior and images related to matters of public interest.
Even so, some argue that revenge porn laws are doomed to fail because nonconsensual pornography does not fall within a category of unprotected speech. To criminalize revenge porn, they say, the Court would have to recognize it as new category of unprotected speech, which it would not do. Another argument is that even if law could secure civil remedies for revenge porn, it could not impose criminal penalties because the First Amendment treats criminal and civil laws differently. These objections are unfounded and deserve serious attention lest they be taken seriously.
It’s an interesting read. Citron makes compelling arguments that show possible ways of acting against problematic issues on the Internet without casting too wide a net that would stifle valuable speech.