- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 2, 2019

The resignation of Rep. Katie Hill, California Democrat, prompted her former colleagues to push Friday for Congress to make it a federal crime to share so-called “revenge porn.”

Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey led 34 fellow Democrats in a letter urging the House Judiciary Committee to consider the Stopping Harmful Image Exploitation and Limiting Distribution Act of 2019.

Also known as the SHIELD Act, the passage of the bill would effectively establish federal criminal liability for people who share intimate images of others without their permission.

“If a person shares a nude image, knowing there is a substantial risk that the person depicted does not consent and had an expectation of privacy, that would be a federal crime,” the Democrats wrote. “The SHIELD Act is an important step towards helping victims protect their privacy, get justice, and keep themselves safe from future violations.”

The bill was introduced in May by Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, and currently has a total of 50 co-sponsors in the House, including five Republicans.

More than a fifth of the bill’s sponsors pledged their support the same day Ms. Hill resigned from the House on the heels of intimate images of herself circulating online.

“In an increasingly digital world, anyone can become a victim of this egregious privacy violation. But we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that revenge porn, as a tactic of sexual degradation and public shaming, is disproportionally used against women to attack their character and undermine their credibility,” her former colleagues wrote in the letter.

“Even when nonconsensual pornography is circulated for reasons other than personal vengeance — for prurient satisfaction, crass entertainment, or no particular purpose at all — it can be extremely painful, leading to the destruction of careers and relationships, serious emotional distress and contemplation of suicide,” they added.

The letter was sent to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and chairwoman of the House subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

Spokespeople for neither Mr. Nadler nor Ms. Bass immediately returned messages sent over the weekend requesting comment. Neither are currently among the bill’s co-sponsors.

Ms. Hill, 32, said Friday that she has received “thousands of vile, threatening emails, calls and texts” since intimate photos taken without her consent were released last month.

“Today I ask you all to stand with me and commit to creating a future where this no longer happens to women and girls,” she said during a passionate resignation speech.

A companion bill to the SHIELD Act introduced in the Senate in July has three co-sponsors, including two Democratic presidential candidates — Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — and Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican.

Forty-six states and D.C. have passed laws criminalizing the distribution of nonconsensual pornography, the authors of the House letter wrote.

“A unified federal statute is long overdue,” the Democrats added.

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