California Sen. Cannella Targets Cyber Revenge with SB 255

cyber revenge Credit: CNN[/caption]

Introduced by State Senator Cannella, California’s SB 255 would make it illegal to distribute information and images of any person with the intent to cause humiliation and emotional distress without consent.

Made possible by technological advances, “cyber revenge” is the sharing of unethical photos and information with the intent of causing cyber stalking, harassment, humiliation, and emotional distress on the party involved.

“People who post or text pictures that are meant to be private as a way to seek revenge are reprehensible. Right now, there is no tool for law enforcement to protect the victims,” says Cannella in a recent Press Release. “Too many have had their lives upended because of an action of another that they trusted. This is a common sense bill that clamps down on those who exploit intimacy and trust for revenge or personal gain.”

The language of the bill specifically targets communication associated with the digital world, speaking to the shortcomings of current law in addressing modern needs. Included in the definition of “electronic communication devices” are telephones and cell phones, which could have serious implications on the future of text messaging.

“It is unfortunate that we have to create legislation to protect individuals from the misuse of technology,” said Christine Ward, executive director of Crime Victims Action Alliance. “I applaud Senator Cannella for his efforts to prevent future victimization in California.”

What makes regulations on electronic communications difficult, however, is our lack of understanding of digital messages. While technology provides us the means to respond instantly, what’s lacking in tone, context, and body language often leads to misinterpretation. Misinterpretation makes it hard to decipher intent, making the enforcement of this bill questionable.

If passed, violators could face up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine up to one thousand dollars.