Treat revenge porn as a crime

Daily Editorial Board

Last week, three University of Minnesota men’s basketball players were benched after a video depicting them in a sex act appeared on Twitter. While the motivation for posting the video remains unknown, experts say jail isn’t a likely consequence for the person who posted it. 
 
 
This frustrates Minnesota Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, who has used the incident to reignite a debate about “revenge porn,” the act of posting sexually explicit videos or images online with the intent to shame the person depicted. Minnesota has not criminalized this despicable practice, but more than 20 other states have. 
 
 
We should consider revenge porn’s indecency to be equivalent to that of sexual assault. It is a putrid violation of the right to privacy, and according to the Wake Forest Law Review, it is standard practice to criminalize such violations. 
 
 
As it stands today, a bill on the floor of the Minnesota House would enact civil and criminal consequences for revenge pornography. It explicitly places emphasis on the uploader’s intent to harass or harm another person. 
 
 
However, some fear the bill would violate the First Amendment. Others don’t want another reason to put offenders in jail. 
 
 
Despite these concerns, the right to privacy is important, and the violation of personal integrity that revenge porn entails is egregious. We urge the state to endorse a comprehensive bill to address the opposition’s concerns but also one that allows for rigid punishment of revenge porn’s creators.