As the 2014 Utah legislative session drew to a close, Democrats and Republicans came together in overwhelming support of House Bill 0071. After being given a 66 to 6 (with 3 withheld votes) seal of approval from the House and Senate on March 13th, the bill was sent on its way to await approval from the governor.

HB 0071 addresses the issue of "revenge porn," the distribution of "intimate images of a person without that person's permission," which has become a an issue due to the proliferation of social media and mobile technology. As the name suggests, such images are often released in the emotional aftermath of a divorce or breakup.

If the bill becomes law, transmitting personal images without their subjects' permission will be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, and repeat offenders could face Third Degree felony counts. Sponsored by Utah Rep. Marie Poulson (D-Salt Lake City) and Utah Sen. Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross), the bill represents the power polar political parties have when they come together for the common good.

In an interview, Weiler told The Park Record, "(The inspiration for the bill) was to stop allowing men to use this type of material as leverage in custody, visitation and alimony negotiations. Too often, woman may be forced against their will to concede to demands out of fear that this material will be made public, or sent to their friends and family."

Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter explained, "Essentially what (HB 0071) does, is it goes after those individuals that take photos or things that have an expectation of privacy and exploit them.


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" According to Carpenter, "revenge porn" involves both real and doctored photos, and both are addressed in HB 0071.

With the technology available to law enforcement to help track down the perpetrators of such crimes, HB 0071 will mark an important step in allowing victims of leaked photos to seek justice. According to Summit County Attorney David Brickey, the biggest obstacle may be encouraging victims to speak up.

'It's going to be a very courageous person that comes forward and says "this happened to me,' explained Brickey, who views the bill as a "wonderful development" and credits the legislation with recognizing harm and embarrassment such photos can cause. "We'll do what we can to protect the identity of the victim."

As Sergeant Ron Bridge of the Summit County Sheriff's office put it, the bill is "right on with the times."