- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota lawmakers are following other states in attempting to penalize those who post explicit photos or videos of ex-lovers on the Internet without permission.

The House public safety committee Tuesday passed a bill that would crack down on so-called “revenge porn” without opposition, although the legal director from the ACLU testified that her organization is concerned the bill is vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.

Laws against revenge porn already have been passed in at least 17 other states and Google announced plans last year to censor unauthorized nude photos from its search engine.

St. Paul Democrat Rep. John Lesch said he’s been receiving input into the bill over the past year. With him Tuesday was an advocate for victims of sexual assault and a woman who’d been unknowingly videotaped by her ex-boyfriend.

The woman said the abusive relationship ended in the fall, but that her former partner recently threatened to share the video. She told lawmakers that passing the bill would be the “biggest relief and comfort” knowing that she’s protected under law.

Teresa Nelson, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said her organization wants to protect women from revenge porn but is concerned the bill is vulnerable to a constitutional challenge. She said as it’s written, the measure isn’t narrow enough and doesn’t include language that requires malicious intent or an Internet user to know they’re invading someone’s privacy.

“We’re not doing victims of revenge porn any service by passing a law that can’t be upheld in court, that will let people go free,” she said.

Lesch countered, saying that requiring the government to prove that someone charged with creating and disseminating revenge porn acted with specific intent “guts the bill.”

“You do not have a free speech right to peer through someone’s window, take a naked picture of them and post it,” he said.

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