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OPLIN 4cast #406: Felonious libraries

Posted in 4cast

handcuffsTwo weeks ago, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in Arizona against that state’s “revenge porn” law on behalf of several bookstores and other organizations. Revenge porn – which some people argue is a misleading term – was a big news item recently when some nude “selfies” of celebrities were leaked on the Internet, a clear violation of privacy. So far, thirteen states have passed revenge porn laws, but even advocates for such state laws, like Professor Danielle Citron, admit that many are poorly written and make even the display of nude images a crime. The ACLU suit lists an example of how this could put libraries on the wrong side of the law: “A library in Arizona provides computers with Internet access to its patrons and, because no filters could effectively prevent this result, the library patrons are able to access nude or sexual images.”

  • Bookstores, publishers sue to stop law against “revenge porn” (Ars Technica | Joe Mullin)  “The plaintiffs-in-suit are several bookstores, as well as the American Association of Publishers and the National Press Photographers Association. [Michael] Bamberger, a First Amendment specialist who’s working together with the American Civil Liberties Union in this case, added that librarians are concerned they could be held liable simply for providing Internet access.”
  • Is Arizona’s revenge porn law overbroad? (Forbes | Sarah Jeong)  “Note the particular bizarreness of the library example. The library gets netted by the law because how many different kinds of activities that the Arizona law criminalizes: ‘It is unlawful to intentionally disclose, display, distribute, publish, advertise or offer a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording of another person in a state of nudity or engaged in specific sexual activities if the person knows or should have known that the depicted person has not consented to the disclosure.’”
  • Revenge porn is malicious and reprehensible. But should it be a crime? (The Nation | Michelle Goldberg)  “At first glance, it can be hard to imagine any decent person objecting to these laws. State-level efforts, which target people who share nude images without the pictured person’s consent, vary considerably. Most make the crime a misdemeanor, with prison sentences of up to a year, though in Arizona it’s a felony. Georgia’s law includes the ‘depiction of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state,’ while a bill that passed Michigan’s State Senate applies to sexually explicit drawings as well as photographs. The ACLU objects to most of this legislation, arguing that it is dangerous to criminalize the display of material that’s not obscene and was legally obtained.’”
  • Are revenge porn laws going too far? (Newsweek | Lauren Walker)  “In 2013, California decided that taking an intimate and confidential picture or video and distributing it with the intention of causing serious emotional distress to the victim is ‘disorderly conduct.’ In reaction, Lee Rowland of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project told NPR ‘the reality is that revenge porn laws tend to criminalize the sharing of nude images that people lawfully own.… That treads on very thin ice constitutionally.’”

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