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It is a new type of Internet crime that is spreading rapidly throughout the nation and affecting untold numbers of households. It’s called “revenge porn,” a term that describes a growing number of explicit images that are being transmitted over the Web without peoples’ consent. These images are often posted by ex-lovers and partners who are spiteful after a breakup, but the pictures can also be picked up by web sites with a “revenge porn” themes. To combat this, Pennsylvania has boosted legal protection for those people, many of whom are young women, thanks to the introduction of new internet crimes legislation. Official reports show that the legislation is designed to amend an existing harassment law, making it illegal to publish sexually explicit images of others without their consent, so long as the crime involves an intent to “harass, annoy or alarm.” The measure would raise the “revenge porn” crime to the status of a second-degree misdemeanor; most other harassment charges carry less-severe penalties. Those convicted in such Internet crime cases could face a two-year jail term and thousands in criminal fines. So far, there are only a few states that have actually criminalized such behavior, pornography capital California being the most notable, but the trend of most other states is likely to follow. Advocates say that additional legislation is required to protect victims who cannot find relief under other harassment and cyberstalking laws. In many cases, those charges require evidence of a pattern of behavior, not a single image post. Those who would oppose the measure say they are concerned about the impact that such a law could have on First Amendment rights throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Residents who are accused of “revenge porn” Internet crime may not currently be subject to criminal consequences because of their alleged behavior. This could change in the coming months, however, as state legislators consider the aforementioned measure. Defendants may consult a qualified criminal defense attorney to learn more about how this legislation could potentially change the outcome of their Internet crime case.

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