- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona House on Tuesday approved a revision of a 2014 law barring so-called “revenge porn,” but civil liberties advocates who sued to block the law said the changes don’t allay their concerns about the legislation.

The bill by Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, was unanimously approved. He said the changes in House Bill 2561 should address constitutional concerns raised by publishers and photographers in a lawsuit.

Mesnard amended the bill last week to try to address ongoing concerns from civil liberties groups but did not add language the opponents wanted requiring an intent to cause harm or the need of a victim to have an expectation of privacy.

The 2014 law is on hold under an agreement between the attorney general and groups that sued.

“I’ve conceded to people that I don’t know what the best choice is - because if I try to help more people and it ends up being put on hold indefinitely, than I haven’t helped anybody,” Mesnard said. “But if I narrow it down to the scope that they’re talking about, then it’s such a narrow population there’s a lot of others that will be injured, hurt, humiliated, that will fall outside the scope of what they’re talking about, and I haven’t done them any good.”

Mesnard got unanimous support from the Legislature last year for his bill making it a crime for jilted lovers to post nude photos of their former partners online.

But the American Civil Liberties Union and two other groups sued in September, arguing the law is so broad it made anyone who distributes or displays a nude image without explicit permission guilty of a felony. The two sides agreed to halt it to allow revisions.

Lee Rowland, the lead ACLU attorney on the case, said Mesnard’s latest changes fall short.

“This version of the bill still fails to provide some critical safeguards that we have outlined consistently both in our lawsuit and in communications with the Legislature,” she said. “Because it fails to include those safeguards, specifically an expectation of privacy, a specific malicious intent on the part of the person who displays the image chief among them, we can’t support this version of the law.”

Mesnard said he will continue to work on the bill in the Senate in hopes of getting the ACLU’s support, but he’s not certain he can change the bill enough to get it.

“My interest in dealing with them is that we can end the lawsuit amicably,” he said. “But I also have the greater motivation of trying to help people.”

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