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updated: 2/19/2014 4:18 PM

State Senate panel passes 'revenge porn' bill

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- A South suburban lawmaker's effort to make what some call "revenge porn" illegal came one step closer to law on Wednesday after a Senate committee unanimously passed the bill.

Supporters say the legislation will protect unsuspecting victims from having sexual photos or videos of themselves posted on the Internet, but some opponents of the bill think the proposal is too broad and restricts free speech.

The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Michael Hastings, said "revenge porn" -- often posted by angry former boyfriends, girlfriends or spouses -- has harmful effects. In some cases, it has led victims to commit suicide, he said.

"As some of us know, love doesn't last forever," said Hastings, a Democrat from Orland Hills. "This is what I consider to be the most ultimate form of cyberbullying."

The measure makes it a felony to post sexual material of others on the Internet without their consent. It also makes it illegal for people posting this explicit material to blackmail victims in exchange for removing the photos or videos from the Internet.

Diana Pisone, an interior designer from Chicago who testified at the hearing about the bill, said her ex-husband threatened to post sexual material of her on the Internet. She said she filed an order of protection against the man in 2010 but that the order has since expired. She said it worries her that he could post the explicit material at any time.

"These pictures, these videos are forever a noose around my neck," Pisone said.

Opponents of the proposal would like to see some changes before it becomes law.

Mary Dixon, the legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said her organization doesn't condone "revenge porn," but is concerned the measure is too broad. She said the ACLU would be neutral on a law that targets someone who maliciously invades another person's privacy. She recommended that lawmakers narrow the restrictions put on free speech in this proposal.

The measure now moves to the Senate floor.

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