Mo. Lawmaker Wants to Ban "Revenge Porn"

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Missouri lawmaker wants prosecutors to be able to go after people who post explicit pictures or videos of their ex-lovers, which is often called "revenge porn." 

Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, testified in front of a House panel Thursday morning in hopes of drumming up support for his proposed legislation. 

Engler told KOMU 8 News revenge porn ruins lives and he wants the punishment to fit the crime if lawmakers decide in the current legislative session to make it a crime. 

Revenge porn would become a felony, punishable with a prison sentence of up to four years. 

Engler said he borrowed concepts from similar legislation passed in other states to develop his bill. New Jersey and California have outlawed the practice and Washington, Virginia and several other states are considering a ban as well. 

MU Communications Law professor Sandra Davidson said she does not see an constitutional "red flags" with Engler's proposed law. Davidson pointed to federal legislation that outlaws "kiddie porn," as an example of law that tries to curtail the use of explicit material. 

Davidson said Engler will have to be very specific with his drafting because criminal and internet law often require it. 

"Under criminal law people have to be put on notice of what they cannot do as well as a punishment if they do it," Davidson said. "You don't want a law that is void for vagueness. So it does have to be very explicit."

Engler said he received positive reception at the House committee hearing. The committee did not vote on the bill, but Engler said he hopes to eventually push it through both the House and Senate after he works out the details. 

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