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House to outlaw 'revenge porn,' 'catfishing'

Posted April 22, 2015

— The state House will vote Wednesday on a trio of bills seeking to crack down on so-called "revenge porn," online impersonation or "catfishing," and the online posting of bedroom or bathroom photos or videos taken without the subject's knowledge or consent.

All three bills are sponsored by Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg. They received unanimous approval in House Judiciary IV Committee on Wednesday morning.

House Bill 792 makes it a felony to post or disclose images of the "intimate parts" or "sexual conduct" of someone without that person's consent. Anyone who discloses or uses the images could also be subject to up to $10,000 in actual damages, as well as additional punitive damages, in a civil suit.

"There’s a fairly well-known case that came out of California of someone posting some, um, pornography to get back at an old spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever. There’s actually a website for it," Bryan told the committee. "What this bill is doing is actually making that a crime."

"Say this happens to junior high or high school kids. It obviously might," said Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston. "Would this appear on their juvenile records?"

Bryan responded that it would be dealt with the same way as other crimes committed by minors.

Speaking for the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Alex Miller expressed concern that "images like these could be stolen by someone who isn’t in the relationship and posted online" but called it an important first step.

The second bill, House Bill 793, makes it a felony to take photos or images of someone without their consent in a private setting, such as a bedroom or a bathroom, with the intention to use them to harm, extort, intimidate or defraud that person. The bill would not apply to exterior cameras, such as security systems.

The third bill, House Bill 794, defines a new felony crime of "online impersonation," defined as "engaging in a credible impersonation of of an actual person ... for the purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person." A conviction could result in jail time and fines as well as a civil lawsuit for damages.

The bill also defines two victims of the crime – the person being impersonated, whose reputation could be harmed, and any other person who is taken in by the impersonation. It would include social media, text or instant messaging and email.

It would not apply to law enforcement officers attempting to lure online predators or conduct other investigations.

All three bills passed with little debate and are expected to be on the House floor for a vote Wednesday afternoon.

8 Comments

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  • Terry Lightfoot Jul 28, 2015
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    young people who may make a bad choice don't need to have a felony on their record, it paints every scenario with the same brush, more overreaching laws from our overreaching Republican reps...Repubs only want more government when it suites their interests or will aid in their future re-election

  • Tara Dawn Apr 29, 2015
    user avatar

    Great idea...because the current civil laws are useless. It would cost you as much to sue for damages and you'd never see a penny of your judgment given the many states with asset sheltering provisions. Criminal law is the only way to have any implications for these crimes...if they actually ever get enforced that is...

  • Marley Higgins Apr 22, 2015
    user avatar

    imagine that - the police are exempt from the law. hardly a shocker...

  • Malakai Bluebone Apr 22, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    Catfishing is slang for someone pretending to be someone they are not on social media, like a beautiful woman who is actually some weird guy in his mom's basement. The purpose is to lure someone into believing their "persona" for any number of reasons like blackmail or to send them money or gifts.

    Sort of like the stories in the news of older women who visit dating sites having their money stolen by their 'Romeo" they met there.

  • Christopher Rose Apr 22, 2015
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    what is cat fishing?

  • Alexia Proper Apr 22, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    Agreed. If I pretended to be the governor via an online web site, I'm pretty sure state police would be at my door soon.

    And I'm sure that it's already illegal to post pictures of people nude without consent, too. If it's legal, then one could publish a magazine or mail around DVDs with the videos on them. I'm pretty sure there is a law against that.

  • Kim Schrock Apr 22, 2015
    user avatar

    These crimes are already against the law. Why do we need new laws when they don't enforce the ones we have.

  • Sammy Macloud Apr 22, 2015
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    yessiree that will bring more jobs to NC.......