House Bill 563, which came before the Idaho House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee in the late afternoon hours of March 3, concerns a chilling subject: revenge pornography.
As written, the bill looks to update the current video voyeurism law in Idaho Code, which does not currently address the use of intimate photos or videos that are shared without consent that according the measure "are just as damaging as sexual gratification, such as revenge, extortion or humiliation."
Coeur d'Alene Republican Rep. Luke Malek, sponsor of HB 563, said the problem is becoming "widespread across the country and in the state of Idaho."
John Dinger, deputy prosecuting attorney for Ada County, told the committee that he is currently working on a case involving a woman whose common-law husband had taken some intimate photos.
"But they broke up last year and he took those pictures and posted them on Craigslist," said Dinger. "He went online and acted as if he were her, giving out her phone number and address. Men would be walking up to her door at all times of night, and one of the individuals even told the woman that he had read about her rape fantasy. This woman is not a resident of Idaho anymore because of the post of these photos."
Monica Hopkins, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho, said she applauded the sponsor of the bill "to address a seriously growing problem," but she said the broad language of the bill "would criminalize protected speech."
"Whether there are photos of Lindsay Lohan, a naked Vietnamese child running away from violence during the Vietnam War or photos of Anthony Weiner, this probably won't stand constitutional scrutiny," said Hopkins. "We must remember that there are serious criminal penalties attached to this bill and there is a need for clarity."
McCammon Republican Rep. Kelley Packer, in support of the bill, said the committee had an obligation to "protect those that are innocent in these circumstances."
"We have a responsibility as a society, not just those in this room, to be more responsible in our online posts, our tweets and our texts," said Packer. "I hope this wakes people up to the fact that when they receive anything like this, they have a responsibility to stop and think."
Ultimately, the committee unanimously approved the bill to be sent to the full House with a "do pass" recommendation.