Revenge Porn

John Oliver Wants to Make 'Revenge Porn' a Federal Crime. Why That's a Terrible Idea

Do we really need the FBI & Homeland Security going after teens who share their girlfriends' boobs on Reddit?

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Screenshot/Last Week Tonight

Dear Good People of the U.S. who want to stop The Bad Things from Happening: Great! I, too, want to stop The Bad Things from happening. Most people do. But we have got to talk about this impulse to accomplish good things by simply making all the bad things into federal crimes. It's an easy-to-stumble-upon—aka lazy—solution that ultimately fails us all, even when the actions in question are undoubtedly unsavory. 

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver is the latest to succumb to this regulatory red herring. In a lengthy segment yesterday, Oliver endorsed a new federal bill that aims to combat "revenge porn," the term du jour for any posting or sharing of sexually explicit images without the depicted's consent. (As University of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks notes, the term "revenge porn" is imprecise because "while a number of cases do involve bitter exes whose express purpose is to harm or harass their former partners, many perpetrators don't know their victims at all. A more accurate term is non-consensual pornography, defined as the distribution of private, sexually explicit material without consent.") The not-yet-introduced legislation, called the "Intimate Privacy Protection Act," is a pet project of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who says she'll bring the bill in the House within the next few weeks. It would make the posting or sharing of non-consensual pornography a federal crime. 

Yet states can and have been introducing their own laws criminalizing "revenge porn," some of which even strike the right balance between protecting privacy and civil liberties. And private platforms, such as Twitter and Reddit, have also been taking steps to stem the flow non-consensual porn, with Google announcing last week that it would allow people to petition for such images' removal from search results. What is gained by bringing the heavy hand of federal prosecutors into this?  

Victims can be just as well served by private or state efforts to thwart the spread of their images. And perpetrators can be rebuked just fine in state criminal or civil courts—without taking up space in our already woefully overcrowded federal prisons or wasting the resources of federal investigators. Let's leave the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to matters of actual homeland security and cross-state criminal enterprise, not chasing down 22-year-olds who text their girlfriends' photos to friends or the random Redditer who decided to download a porn pic that it turns out wasn't meant to be shared. 

"The law would carve out exceptions for the 'bona fide public interest,'" Oliver assured us, joking that "if, say, a public figure like Anthony Weiner texted his penis around, we could all still enjoy that story."

But outside of "bona fide public interest" cases, publications and social-media platforms where users post non-consenual porn could be held criminally liable for those users posts—contra Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act.

Federal law currently grants Internet service providers and online platforms legal immunity for most content posted by third parties, with exceptions for child pornography, copyright infringements, and—as of last month—sex-trafficking ads. Though the specifics of Spier's bill are not yet available, it seems it would add yet another category of offense for which sites such as Twitter, Google, or Reason could be criminally charged should someone use the site for those ends. 

"Frequently, almost inevitably, statutes that try to do this type of thing overreach," Matt Zimmerman, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told U.S. News about similar legislation Rep. Spier pushed last year. "The concern is that they're going to shrink the universe of speech that's available online," as Internet companies, fearing federal liability, become quick to remove any content about which someone complains. 

Franks claims that a federal revenge porn law is needed "to signal society's acknowledgement and condemnation of this serious wrongdoing." But federal law has serious consequences, not just for criminals but for also in terms of economic costs, resource allocation, and civil liberties. It's far too significant to treat as some sort of political sermon or public service announcement. 

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  1. Something about Oliver just screams “punchworthy”. I don’t know if it’s the hipster black frames or the limey accent, or the combination of the two…..

    1. The ‘duh’ attitude that comes with the jokes.

      1. To me, it’s the ‘duh’ in his dumb reasoning.

        Even when I agree with him, his thought process is so superficial that I find myself cussing at my TV.

        He’s managed to out dumb the Daily Show in ignoring any of the real issues in any of the things I’ve seen him cover.

        1. Good for him, we certainly wouldn’t want to hear someone focusing on the real issues. I have a list of online harassment stuff the feds should criminalize, starting with inappropriately deadpan email parodies of well-connected academic figures. New York has made some headway on this pressing concern, see the documentation of one trial at:

          http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

          but prosecutors there also blundered and ended up getting a harassment statute declared “unconstitutional.” The feds should help out and make some of them there Internet trolls pay for that episode with serious time in federal prison.

      2. Mmhmm. Maybe it’s because I’m not 17 any more, but the “duh” tone to political jokes pisses me off. Even if it’s something I agree with.

        Oliver is a very funny guy, but I can’t stand to listen to him try to make some point. It’s just grating. Same deal with Colbert. And as ENB says below, it really doesn’t help that they get such outsized praise online.

    2. I was just saying that Slade while writing this that I couldn’t help wanting to punch John Oliver even when I agree with him. I think it’s not so much him though as the fawning coverage he elicits from 85% of the Internet

      1. You guys, John Oliver just DESTROYED revenge porn!!

        1. I give up.

      2. This.

        WATCH: John Stewart John Oliver DESTROY BAD THINGS.

      3. I’ve thought about this for a long while and it have come to the conclusion that it’s like 80% his smug condescending accent. Which is weird because I always enjoyed Hitchen’s smug condescending accent.

        1. Hitchens was, at least, an expert on the subjects he spoke about, not a clown.

          1. And I think this kind of captures it. Hitchens’ smug, condescending accent, like William F. Buckley’s, came from the fact that he generally knew he could best his opponent in an open discussion. Guys like Oliver or Stewart substitute that talent with the fact that the opposing view won’t get an honest airing.

            1. And having a team of writers put together their material

              1. And dishonest editing

            2. Nothing beats Hayek’s authoritative German accent. You know who else had a, ah fuck it.

      4. Like Stewart and Colbert, Oliver knows who his audience is and what kind of jokes will automatically elicit laughs and fawning coverage, no matter how stupid and lame they are.

        For example, one of the jokes in his segment about online harassment last night was that if you don’t think its a serious problem you must have a ” white penis”.

        Har har har har.

        Like I’ve said before, I don’t see how people like Oliver, who aren’t stupid, can’t help but have some contempt for their audience since it’s so ridiculously easy to get them to clap along like trained seals.

        1. “if you don’t think its a serious problem you must have a ” white penis”.”

          That right there, is a racist comment

          Where are the headlines saying John Oliver is a racist and a bigot? i cant seem to find them

        2. Apparently he’s never heard of Anthony Wiener.

          1. Perhaps he’s only seen Anthony’s Wiener.

      5. To his credit, he can actually be funny and charming and he is so, for example, when he was on Community. Since Community is blissfully completely unpolitical, he is just being a funny actor, and he’s good at it.

        People doing clumsy, heavy-handed social signaling immediately annihilates their charm and charisma. They should really stop doing it.

        1. “I love pizza. In England we call them Italian fannies.”

      6. So I learned this would be a “Terrible Idea” because some states and local government already have laws “some of which even strike the right balance between protecting privacy and civil liberties”. (Although many don’t, so if you live somewhere that doesn’t, sucks to be you) And also such laws “frequently, almost inevitably…overreach”. Err…except for the laws you’ve already said don’t.

        This comment (and one of the biggest response threads to this article) presents the most concrete reason you think this is a terrible idea: Because you want to punch John Oliver.

        Or more simply, “Stupid liberal said liberal thing. I want to punch him. Therefore he is wrong. QED, muthafucka.”

        1. Do you even literate, bro?

          From the article, reasons this is a bad idea:

          * lazy?solution
          * private platforms, such as Twitter and Reddit, have also been taking steps to stem the flow
          * Victims can be just as well served by private or state efforts to thwart the spread of their images.
          * without taking up space in our already woefully overcrowded federal prisons
          * wasting the resources of federal investigators.
          * chassing down … the random Redditer who decided to download a porn pic that it turns out wasn’t meant to be shared.
          * contra Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act.
          * they’re going to shrink the universe of speech that’s available online
          * Internet companies, fearing federal liability, become quick to remove any content about which someone complaines.
          * It’s far too significant to treat as some sort of political sermon or public service announcement.

          There. A series of reasons that this is a bad idea OTHER than Oliver is a stupid git.

    3. I envision him begging like a wino with the shakes were he ever confronted with possible violence towards his person. Little limey turd.

      1. True story: he’s never been seem in the same picture with a woodchipper.

  2. Federal Booby Inspector.

    Line forms to the left, guys.

  3. Are we starting to see a new Jon Stewart liberal muppet emerge?

    1. Starting to? Young lefty types have been slobbering over this guy for a while now.

      1. But I think in terms of ‘slobbering’ over him he’s not at Jon Stewart’s level…yet.

  4. Like everyone but me, Oliver is good on some subjects, terrible on many others.

    1. Correct. You’re not good on ANYTHING.

      1. BAM!! Pwned like a N00B…..

        1. I came to Reason to bust chops and chew bubblegum, and i am all the fuck out of bubblegum.

          1. +1 Hot Rod

      2. I didn’t think it would take a full five minutes for someone to come back with that. You should consider this a fail on your part, fellow commenters.

  5. It was interesting. I didn’t mind the fact that there was no romantic interest. Gives you more time for action but you more nice video check this way and comment me
    Best Home Deal ?????? http://www.BuzzReport20.com

    1. but you more nice video

      English, motherfucker, do you speak it!?!

  6. We’re from the Gov. we are here to help.

  7. Let’s leave the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to matters of actual homeland security and cross-state criminal enterprise, not chasing down 22-year-olds who text their girlfriends’ photos to friends or the random Redditer who decided to download a porn pic that it turns out wasn’t meant to be shared.

    What we need is another agency!

    1. What we need is a task force. I should be able to send a picture of my bulbous tackle to whomever I want and they should just keep it to themselves. The law needs to protect me.

      1. Some of us enjoy enough liberty to just leave it flapping in the breeze for all to see…and it’s always free to look.

        1. Right, but you’re a reptile – what’s there to flap?

          1. You should see his fleshy cloaca in all its tail vent glory!

          2. Many reptiles have a hemipene.

    2. And another Czar! – Can’t have too many of them.

  8. Franks claims that a federal revenge porn law is needed “to signal society’s acknowledgement and condemnation of this serious wrongdoing.”

    That’s not what laws do. They threaten people with death. Fuck off, slaver.

    1. But doesn’t that just perfectly sum up the mentality?

    2. That’s not what laws do. They threaten people with death.

      My guess, madam, is that he understands that. He’s just hoping we don’t.

    3. But that is what proposing idiotic laws does. So he’s right on mission, Nicole.

    4. If you can get enough people behind the cause that you can pass a law about it, then society has already sent the signal. Do these people not even recognize the circular logic?

  9. “[…]It’s an easy-to-stumble-upon?aka lazy?solution that ultimately fails us all[…]”

    You left out, or misspelled “stupid”.

  10. Trigger warning: victim blaming

    If you don’t want naked pictures of yourself on the Internet, DON’T FUCKING TAKE NAKED PICTURES OF YOURSELF.

    1. I’ve sent naked pictures to hundreds of people, and nobody has thought it noteworthy enough to post online. I’m really disappointed.

      1. Maybe you’re just not looking in the right place, have you tried googling ‘sad porn’?

      2. I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop sending them to me.

        1. Playa’s Revenge?

      3. Did you check rotten.com? 😉

  11. Revenge porn is the height douchebaggery and assholeness, however getting the federal gov involved will only exacerbate the problem in ways that we can’t even possibly imagine until we actually see it.

  12. You shouldn’t make something a crime unless you can define what it is. What is “revenge porn”? Putting up a picture that the person in it doesn’t like? Okay, what exactly is the scope of consent for that? If I agree to have the picture taken, how can we ever know, short of a written contract that I didn’t consent to it being posted on the internet? More over, what is so special about naked pictures? People can be humiliated in all kinds of ways that don’t involve nakedness or sex. If an angry girlfriend posts a picture of her ex boyfriend cross dressing, that is totally okay because it is not porn. He posts a picture of her topless and he is going to prison? Yeah, that sounds like a place we need to have DAs and courts going.

    1. John, girls, especially those aged 14-22, are stupid and do not know any better, so they need to be protected.

      1. And boys don’t? It is totally okay for them to be humiliated? They can learn from the school of hard knocks about girls are just too delicate.

        I know you were being sarcastic, but God these people are awful.

    2. People can be humiliated in all kinds of ways that don’t involve nakedness or sex.

      Like this picture of Senator John Tower? http://photographyblog.dallasn…..ower.html/

      1. Remember Marv Albert? His mistress wrote a tell all and released some pictures about his proclivities as a cross dressing submissive. I don’t think anything she did would be counted as “revenge porn”. Yes, it was about as humiliating as anything you can imagine.

    3. You shouldn’t make something a crime unless you can define what it is. What is “revenge porn”? Putting up a picture that the person in it doesn’t like? Okay, what exactly is the scope of consent for that? If I agree to have the picture taken, how can we ever know, short of a written contract that I didn’t consent to it being posted on the internet?

      You assume that for these people that’s a bug, and not a feature. That isn’t clear to me.

    4. I’m sure that the law also won’t allow Michele Bachmann to sue the people who took pics of her wolfing down the footlong and making fun of her.

      http://tinyurl.com/npropcm

      But I’d guess if you took the same pic of Michelle Obama you’d probably get rung up.

      1. Preet wants to know who you are.

  13. How much more notability (notoriety?) will quote-unquote victims suffer after quote-unquote perpetrators are arraigned for the quote-unquote crime of distributing offensive personal effects? On the one hand, a private civil suit against the offender or the distributor likely will never see the light of day. On the other, a criminal trial with discovery and salacious press coverage.

    1. And forget the Streisand effect, such charges would call attention to a few indecent candids in the midst of an ocean of such things. If there wasn’t much exposure to begin with, there will be afterward. Let’s not pretend this has anything to do with protecting victims, it’s entirely about punishing perpetrators.

    2. Much more. But the point of this isn’t to protect people. The point is to create another excuse to criminalize straight men. To the people who push these laws, every time a straight man goes to jail, an angel gets her wings.

      1. “Criminalize straight men.”

        I think it’s more of a misguided attempt to protect a woman’s virtue and reputation, lest she become unmarriageable or unemployable. We all know that women are naturally modest and chaste, but sometimes succumb to predatory, lecherous men who seek their undoing and ruination.

    3. How much more notability (notoriety?) will quote-unquote victims suffer after quote-unquote perpetrators are arraigned for the quote-unquote crime of distributing offensive personal effects? On the one hand, a private civil suit against the offender or the distributor likely will never see the light of day. On the other, a criminal trial with discovery and salacious press coverage.

      You seem to have an airtight argument against criminalizing sexual assaults, buddy.

      1. No he doesn’t. You criminalize sexual assaults because the people who do it are dangers to other women and society at large. Everyone knows that prosecuting a sexual assault is hard for the victim and the victim would in many ways be better off it they didn’t have to go through it. You put them through it because you can’t let guilty get away with it and go on to victimize other people. None of that is true here. Is there really an interest in making sure some guy doesn’t publish anymore naked pictures of his g/f?

        1. I’m not in favor of criminalizing the posting of revenge porn, but maybe commodious spittoon should have made that point instead of one that applies equally to any victim of criminal embarrassment. It’s irrelevant to whether this should be criminal.

      2. Well, I suppose if the victim is a partner in a bdsm relationship, and the state arraigns the supposed assailant for bruises on the victim’s face, not on charges of assault but for having made public lewd facts about the victim’s sexual preferences…

  14. Okay guys. I have a legal/moral question that’s related to sex that was proposed to me this morning by a friend, that prompted one of the most bizarre legal disagreements I have ever taken part of.

    So, I toss this log into the room full of woodchippers … er, squirrel into a room full of hungry dobermans.

    When is a marriage said to be consumated. Any penetration? or only after the male climaxes?

    I think the question of who is the rightful heir of some throne somewhere turns on this matter, so it’s important!

    1. Any penetration. Of course, I’m sure that would be disputed in the SSM era, but you didn’t really leave an option for that. SHITLORD!

    2. I would say any penile penetration. Let’s ask an authority. Um, I think he’s saying it’s complicated.

      1. Well played, you rogue.

    3. Dictionary just says first marital sexual intercourse. However, a second definition says completion of an agreement by the signing of a contract.

      I suspect that since the purpose is to produce offspring, it doesn’t count unless the dude blows his load.

      1. What if his load does not contain any motile sperm?

        What about the small quantities of ejaculate that preceedes climax?

        1. It’s not the dude’s fault if the woman can’t make a baby. If she can’t, he’s well within his rights to kill her and take a new wife. I thought you were some kind of history buff.

    4. You’re not a Targaryen and you never will be. Just give it up.

      1. Just shut up! Just shut up! H8R!

    5. Given that consummation in this sense implies a possibility that the bride be positioned to give birth to an heir, penetrative penis vs. vagina sex is the logical standard.

    6. What about space docking or a cleveland steamer?

      Does a dirty sanchez just make you friends?

    7. Bill Clinton climaxed on Monica’s dress? Is he now married to the dress? As a PSA – the dress was blue with a white stain.

  15. So we lost Jon Stewart, but we gained a louder, angrier, unfunnier, Englisher Jon Stewart. That’s cool, I guess.

    1. Could be worse. Could be Piers Morgan.

    2. It won’t matter to the congress of baboons who make up his audience. The less funnier and the angrier he is, the more they will like it.

      1. congress of baboons

        Good phrase.

        1. Where’s Hitchens when you need him?

      2. The congress of baboons will now come to order!

        1. I feel like this is a better description of the comments section at Reason than “Blowhard stupidity.”

    3. dear Lord the number of people who shared that “Jon Stewart has no jokes because Charleston” video made me want to put Mark Zuckerberg feet first into…a nice pair of shoes…?

    4. I can’t understand any of what you said unless you yell it with feigned, sputtering outrage.

      1. THAT’S NOT FUNNY

        1. *applause plus people going WOOOOOOOOOOH*

          1. “Warty DESTROYS JW”

      2. “pbbtt…but…but, surely we’re more enlightened than Cuba!”

      3. I’m done with the whole genre:

        1. feigned innocent question
        2. silly interview selectively edited
        3. mocking observation
        4. stem-winding rant ending in outrageously outrage
        5. smug
        6. and, curtain

        An episode of CSI starring David Caruso is less predictable.

        1. It sounds like Oliver…

          *sunglasses*

          Just got twisted.

          YEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH

        2. Do you write for Cliff’s Notes?

    5. It’s like John Stewart and Piers Morgan fucked.

  16. Putting someone in prison can have far worse consequences for a person than internet pics can.

    1. Getting but raped in federal prison because you put a naked picture SOMEONE GAVE YOU on the internet sounds about as barbaric as chopping someone’s hand off because they robbed you.

      I guess Saudi Arabia is now our role model when it comes to sexual laws?

      1. *butt raped, not but raped. lol.

        1. If you are butt raped and later get a new cellmate, what’s the protocol for posting the pictures?

  17. Ultimately I think the comedy cult surrounding comedians like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and others are extremely harmful and detrimental in the long-run for liberal/progressive prospects.

    Nothing about these segments are insightful or thought-provoking, it’s just a lot of sneering at those people we don’t like and social signaling about believing in the right things.

    As a result, people who get their news or talking points from them are entirely unprepared for actual debate. So they end up either in insular bubbles or out in the real world struggling under the weight of massive cognitive dissonance.

    1. I think you are right. They have given up and forgotten how to convince anyone or compromise. Everything is about ridicule and being nasty to anyone who disagrees with them. The whole thing is nothing but a brand. It has been reduced to being a social signal about how much better you are than everyone else. That won’t end well.

      1. Everything is about ridicule and being nasty to anyone who disagrees with them.

        The thing is, it’s not even honest ridicule. Guys like Oliver, Colbert, or Stewart carefully engineer their show so that no challenge to their control or narrative ever slips through. They know perfectly well they can take cheap shots or get by with ridiculous one-liners because the opposing view won’t get a chance to be aired.

        Ever see these guys when they don’t have control of the narrative? They either wilt, being absolutely obsequious with the guy confronting them. Or they put on their clown noses, insisting that it’s unfair to challenge them, because they’re just on the comedy channel.

      2. Everything is about ridicule and being nasty to anyone who disagrees with them.

        The thing is, it’s not even honest ridicule. Guys like Oliver, Colbert, or Stewart carefully engineer their show so that no challenge to their control or narrative ever slips through. They know perfectly well they can take cheap shots or get by with ridiculous one-liners because the opposing view won’t get a chance to be aired.

        Ever see these guys when they don’t have control of the narrative? They either wilt, being absolutely obsequious with the guy confronting them. Or they put on their clown noses, insisting that it’s unfair to challenge them, because they’re just on the comedy channel.

    2. Oliver was good for exactly 2 episodes, the first 2, and then he promptly fell into line with the bien peasants.

      Tedious, yawn-inducing, courage-less speaking truth to “power.”

    3. This is why the latest evolution of their “philosophy” is the SJWs whose entire platform is why you are not allowed to argue with them. They have zero debate skills, so instead of getting them, they come up with bizarre reasons why you aren’t allowed to have an opinion because of privilege or skin color or gender or whatever.

      They can’t debate, so they now want to shut down debate. It’s very simple.

      1. And if they can’t bully you into shutting up, they will resort to violence if they ever have the power. Most of them are pathetic and completely lack the kind of initiative and balls it takes to go out and lead and be a real threat. All of them, however, make perfect toadies who if they are ever in a position to do violence on the defenseless will happily do so. So the question is whether they will ever get enough leaders to get real power to let the toadies run free over the rest of us. I don’t think they will. But they might.

        1. I’ve been wondering when we’ll start to see real political violence. The tone of politics now is so nasty and personal that it seems inevitable, doesn’t it?

          1. Not as long as we have the 2nd amendment and the country is armed. If they ever succeed in disarming the country, then the toadies will get together and mobs and run free.

            1. Yes. They fantasize about violence against their political enemies, but their only avenue for it is via the forces of the state since they personally don’t want to handle those icky guns. So, if they ever achieve the unchecked power they so desparately crave, they will be glad to sic armed agents of the state on anyone and everyone who has the temerity to oppose them.

          2. What you’re seeing is losers being incredibly loud, because they can. Losers aren’t used to being listened to, so when they are, they go hog wild like a teen drinking for the first time. But they’re still pathetic, and they will not go to violence. They would almost assuredly engage in violence if someone less cowardly starts it, but they won’t.

            Their politics are so nasty because that’s their battlefield. Not real life, not the physical world.

            1. That and losing is almost a pathology for them. Whenever they get what they want, they just move on and start demanding something more. Part of the reason is that being a victim and being a loser is their entire identity. So there is no satisfying them. They want to be losers because more than anything they want an excuse to hate people and not take responsibility for who they are. If there is a victim there is necessarily a perpetrator. And that is what the whole ‘cult of the victim” is all about. It is not about helping the victim. It is about having an excuse to blame someone.

              1. The number of progressives needs to be reduced to a manageable level.

      2. Intellectually lazy ideologies beget intellectually lazy individuals. Progressives are regressing and becoming stupider because of it.

        1. Which is why, given time, their shortcomings won’t matter. Once everyone is stupid, nobody will know any better.

      3. The debate is over. They won the debate. Now is the time for clamping down on those of us who didn’t get the memo.

    4. That’s pretty much it. The weakest of jokes is accepted as screamingly funny if it just expresses the right socio-political views. It’s not about actually being funny, it’s about assuring people that they’re right and the other people are wrong.

  18. John Oliver is a terrible idea.

  19. I FUCKING LOVE CONFIRMATION BIAS.

    1. I FUCKING LOVE SHITTY COMEDY

      1. REPUBLICANS ARE SO STUPID

        I think Oliver’s declaration last night of “if you don’t agree that X is a problem you must have a white penis” should become the new version of that meme.

        1. The fact that he could make such an idiotic statement and not be mocked mercilessly immediately is very disheartening.

      2. I picture Oliver, Stewart, etc, receiving the barking adulation of their fans, as Kent does with God and the popcorn.

  20. So I haven’t looked up the text of the proposed bill, but how does one actually define “revenge porn” or “non-consensual pornography” in a legal criminal sense? OK, the prototypical case of the jaded lover taking the photographs of his ex and posting them online somewhere is clear cut enough. It’s the edge cases that bother me:

    What if he photoshops his ex’s face onto a porn star’s body and posts that image? Criminal?

    What if he paints a watercolor replica of a nude photo of his ex and hangs it in an art gallery? Criminal?

    I can probably think of a hundred more examples along these lines.

    1. Not to mention the whole concept of revenge.

      Does he have to do it to shame or embarrass her? What if his goal is simply to brag about the hot chick he banged?

    2. Basically, what they are saying, as I understand it, is a woman (let’s be realistic, this law is probably going to be almost exclusively applied against heterosexual men; maybe occasionally gay men who tape their male partners, basically like rape) can now retroactively withdraw consent to be photographed or taped at any time.

      So how do we know if her consent has been withdrawn? I guess when she calls the police. Suppose she even gives you consent to upload it, then later she changes her mind about it? My guess is unless you can prove she consented to the uploading, you probably get prosecuted.

      Basically, the law allows one to retroactively withdraw consent to an action. I wish I could say I’m surprised about that coming from these people.

    3. i think someone used this phrase already upthread, but I can’t help thinking feature not bug. if people pushing these kind of laws were smart enough to have and hide a secret plan it would be making crime so subjective that anyone can be arrested whenever

  21. Once you give your picture of Tijuana donkey fucking to someone else, it’s no longer yours to control.

  22. John Oliver himself is a bad idea, so no wonder…

  23. Oliver’s a bigger fool than I thought if he thinks the ‘bona fide public interest’ exception would actually be applied in any way he imagines. Of course I assume that he’d be unable to define what a ‘bona fide public interest’ is legally anyway.

    Of course, the idiocy of years of pulling teenagers on sex offender lists for sexting might lead someone to recognize the fact that broad legislation to regulate a perceived moral crisis might have some negatives.

    1. You know what these Yanks need, John, but won’t come out and say it?

      THEY YEARN FOR A CANADIAN to give them their humorous news.

      If only the brass here had the balls to come out and say it. I nominate Episiarch.

      1. You’ve got a point there. Rick Mercer is probably the best standard for ‘smug condescending left-wing news commentator’ and it’s largely because, unlike Stewart or Oliver, he’s actually charismatic.

        1. Exporting him to states would be a win all around. We get a better TV, they get a better TV, and he learns what it’s like to have your salary paid by private entity!

      2. “Smokes. Let’s go.”

        1. You know. Trevor and Corey remind me of Obama and Biden.

  24. I have it from someone who met him while he was filming here in DC for TDS that he is a gigantic douchebag off camera as well.

  25. And this inclination to call anything that involves not covering parts of the human body “porn” really fucking irritates me. Frankly, I think the word porn needs to go in general. One man’s porn is just another man’s picture of people having sex. Not to mention that what constitutes porn in Saudi Arabia is a far cry from what constitutes porn here. Fucking humans and their hysteria over their own bodies. it’s absurd.

    1. nah the word itself is fine. it’s societal acceptance of the idea that there’s some objective metric to judge things like this by that’s the problem. and people not realizing that making something a crime means you think that people who do it should be imprisoned, beaten, raped, and never be able to find a job. we fancy ourselves to be more liberal than “an eye for an eye”, but this is way too far in the other direction

  26. Oliver may want to watch out. If there’s ever a law that makes it a felony to post video of someone without their permission with the intent of subjecting them to public ridicule and embarassment, everyone who’s ever been a Daily Show correspondent is likely to be in violation of it.

    1. But it’s ok when he does it.

  27. states can and have been introducing their own laws criminalizing “revenge porn,” some of which even strike the right balance between protecting privacy and civil liberties. And private platforms, such as Twitter and Reddit, have also been taking steps to stem the flow non-consensual porn, with Google announcing last week that it would allow people to petition for such images’ removal from search results…

    Franks claims that a federal revenge porn law is needed “to signal society’s acknowledgement and condemnation of this serious wrongdoing.”

    Sounds like the signaling is already being done. By “society” I’m guessing she means government, specifically the federal government. Because if the feds haven’t passed some god awefull law then “society” hasn’t signaled its condemnation of something.

    Fuck off slaver.

  28. What is gained by bringing the heavy hand of federal prosecutors into this?
    .
    Seriously? You get to bring the heavy hand of federal prosecutors into this and we all know prosecutors can punish you regardless of whether or not you actually committed a crime. As they say, you might beat the rap but you won’t beat the ride.

  29. In a lengthy segment yesterday, Oliver endorsed a new federal bill that aims to combat “revenge porn,”

    Maybe his interest is not all that altruistic as there could be something lurking in the dark corners of the Cloud that involves Oliver and a certain donkey? Perhaps?

    Oliver’s endorsement comes not at all a surprise considering people of his ilk are too quick to endow the State with the power to turn Man into a virtuous being at bayonet point. i am sure that for Oliver, the idea that people should be responsible adults not to be protected from the effects of folly (lest we populate the world with fools) is as alien as the notion that government has no power over people’s hearts.

  30. It’s tough to take his commentary seriously when he intersperses it with sophomoric humor. As a woman, I’ve been knocked around online, and some of it has been pretty gruesome, but it really doesn’t phase me. Certainly not enough for me to want more laws! How will THAT protect me? If I carry, I’ve got it covered. No thank you, government, I’m on it.

  31. I have a lot of respect for John Oliver, who is a passionate opponent of overuse of prisons and abuses by law enforcement. But his concern last night that somebody “do something” about a problem by creating more criminal statutes is exactly why we have out of control prosecutors, police, and prisons.

    His commentary on prisons tends to focus on the “for-profit” aspect rather than an overabundance of criminal statutes and overzealous enforcement. He diagnosed the symptoms, but not the disease. Which is why he can, with a straight face, recommend more vaguely defined criminal laws for a country already overflowing with cops and prisoners.

    1. So why exactly do you have a lot of respect for Oliver?

      Stay chipper!

    2. Almost no one on the left is actually “a passionate opponent of overuse of prisons and abuses by law enforcement.”

      If they were they wouldn’t so enthusiastically endorse making or keeping consensual and/or innocuous behavior illegal. I mean, most of these people believe in things like the rape epidemic or the domestic violence epidemic; look at the ‘studies’ they cite, 1 in 4 this, 1 in 3 that; they implicitly want tens of millions of people put in prison.

      A leftist saying he opposes overuse of prison is something to take as seriously as David Duke saying he isn’t a racist.

      1. im sure they’re sincere about both things, they just don’t think about them enough to see any connection

  32. If I take a nude pic of a willing subject I own the copyright and can do anything I want with it.

    1. To Ice Trey: Can you prove that the subject is willing? the person may be willing to share that picture with you but not necessarily with the world. and what if you change the picture by adding words to it? Are they still willing? Creating a website and claiming that this person “wants it” from the world when they do not is lying, possibly defamation of character, and in some places might be enough grounds to arrest them for prostitution.

      Maybe it should not be the person who takes the picture who owns the copyright of the photo, maybe it should be the person–the subject of the photo–who owns their own image and we who take their picture have their permission to distribute it in ways that the subject and photographer agree to. This will prevent the “owner” of the copyright from Photoshopping the photo and adding stuff that the subject may or may not agree with. The problem becomes walking the line between allowing 1st Amendment journalism rights and protecting ones 4th Amendment privacy rights.

    2. To Ice Trey: Can you prove that the subject is willing? the person may be willing to share that picture with you but not necessarily with the world. and what if you change the picture by adding words to it? Are they still willing? Creating a website and claiming that this person “wants it” from the world when they do not is lying, possibly defamation of character, and in some places might be enough grounds to arrest them for prostitution.

      Maybe it should not be the person who takes the picture who owns the copyright of the photo, maybe it should be the person–the subject of the photo–who owns their own image and we who take their picture have their permission to distribute it in ways that the subject and photographer agree to. This will prevent the “owner” of the copyright from Photoshopping the photo and adding stuff that the subject may or may not agree with. The problem becomes walking the line between allowing 1st Amendment journalism rights and protecting ones 4th Amendment privacy rights.

  33. In the case of some people, the answer would be yes.Of course, some people still insist that the earth is flat.

  34. Federal jurisdiction makes sense to me. I am pretty sure those pics cross state lines. What happens when the victim lives in Florida and the perp lives in a state where it’s not a crime?

  35. i kind of see this as an example of where people just starting doing something, and so now it’s common/fun enough, that they want to be able to continue it but just know that there won’t be any negative consequences. i don’t know, but doesn’t copyright law pretty much deal with this? if it were possible, i imagine you’d have people asking the feds to legislate away their ability to get cancer if they smoked, rather than simply….not smoking. maybe some tweaks can be made to keep up with the new technology, but where some people want to take the law seems more designed so we don’t have to worry about personal responsibility.

  36. May be a terrible idea, but a little hysteria goes a long way.

  37. “Do we really need the FBI & Homeland Security going after teens who share their girlfriends’ boobs on Reddit?” Yes. Not Homeland Security, but the FBI. Crimes on the internet are interstate, not local or state, and the government is supposed to protect individual rights. Posting the pictures without permission is a violation of the rights of the person whose picture was posted without permission. It causes great reputational damage to the person, and it causes economic damage and limits future career prospects. This is not a game. Immature young people don’t get a pass here just because they are otherwise good kids and kids will be kids. They know it is wrong, and it’s not made benign by the fact that anyone feels that others just need to loosen up and not take sex-related things seriously. They need to know the seriousness of the punishment so they won’t try it.

    1. so we make a federal law? Why not make a federal law whenever you watch a porn video, since you didn’t get the actresses consent? Or when you mock someone on twitter? That’s “harassing” after all. Maybe the people who disagree in the comment section of a website should be detained, because it might offend someone…oh wait..

      People don’t have the right to throw into jail anyone who says mean things about them on the internet into federal penitentiaries.

  38. I would think that if a woman takes a picture of herself and sends it to her lover, she has the copyright. So if the guy disseminates it without her consent, it would be a violation for that reason, whether the picture shows her dressing up as Queen Victoria or not at all.

  39. Whenever someone says, “a federal law is needed”, one thing is for certain. It is neither needed nor wise.

    Way too many crimes have been federalized for no good reason. The Feds use the Commerce Clause to mean they can criminalize anything, because after all, the air one breathes is shared with all the states. The purpose of the Commerce Clause is to PROMOTE commerce, not to put people in prison for misbehaving; that is what the States are for.

    What should be done is a great reform. Go through the Federal Code page by page. Every law that overlaps at least one state’s law should be repealed. I would go so far as to say an Amendment is needed to restrict the expansion of the Federal Government: No person may be charged by the Federal Government who may also be charged by any State for the same offense.

  40. Seems like a langer.

  41. To be fair, understanding the nuances of local/state/federal government is really hard for a European for a few years after coming to this country. I can imagine it’s even harder if you’re constantly in an echo-chamber, which tells you how great you are and how wonderfully utopian the society you came from is.

    If you run into the problem of adequately being able to explain this concept to a European, just compare the federal US government to the EU, and state governments to the individual EU member states. Facepalms should ensue, and 2-3 months later you’ll have another small-government person on your hands.

  42. “perpetrators can be rebuked just fine in state criminal or civil courts.” They showed an interview of one victim who said the attorney wanted 5 grand up front and estimated it would cost 15 total. I’m not sure about the states rights argument, but it seems this is something that could easily cross state lines. If some states have struck the correct balance, then why not support it as the federal law?

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