Idaho

North Idaho lawmaker targets ‘revenge porn’

Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene (Betsy Russell)
Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene (Betsy Russell)

BOISE - It’s called “revenge porn” and Idaho may be powerless to stop it without a change in state law.

“It’s a wave of extortion, humiliation and revenge,” said state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, who introduced legislation today to fix an apparent loophole in Idaho’s anti-voyeurism law. “What people are doing is they’re taking photos that have been shared privately, and they’re posting them on the web, intending to get money out of them, to get revenge, or to flat-out humiliate them.”

Malek’s proposal would make “revenge porn” a felony, as Idaho’s anti-video voyeurism law has proven unusable against this latest form of online exploitation.

Times have changed since Idaho enacted the video voyeurism law, Malek says, which was aimed at people who surreptitiously filmed people in bathrooms or shot pictures up women’s skirts.

A particular problem is the current law’s definition of the offense, which requires that the pictures or video be used for “sexual gratification.” Today’s revenge-porn offenders have other motives, Malek says, including posting explicit images of others on the internet for money, revenge, humiliation or shame.

Some get the images when they’re privately shared earlier, perhaps by an ex; others get them through hacking, said Malek, a former deputy Kootenai County prosecutor.

Malek said the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association advised him that it’s struggling with a pending case in Ada County. “They’re trying to prosecute under video voyeurism,” Malek said, but it just doesn’t fit.

Idaho’s 2004 law says a person is guilty of video voyeurism when images are broadcast “with the intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of such person or another person, or for his own or another person’s lascivious entertainment or satisfaction of prurient interest, or for the purpose of sexually degrading or abusing any other person.” Malek’s bill takes that out, and just defines the crime as broadcasting intimate images of another person, without his or her consent, when “the parties agreed or understood that the images should remain private.”

Malek, at age 32 one of Idaho’s younger state lawmakers, said 2004 is practically ancient history in internet terms. “The world’s changed a little bit since then,” he said. “I think this just brings the code up to date to reflect the reality that particularly young people are facing, and a lot of young women.”

Wednesday’s introduction of the bill clears the way for a full hearing in a House committee; to become law, it still must pass both houses and receive the governor’s signature.



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