Arizona reaches agreement with ACLU, won't enforce revenge porn law

Arizona's broad revenge porn law would have put artistic and news photographers, booksellers, publishers, librarians and others at risk.
Arizona's broad revenge porn law would have put artistic and news photographers, booksellers, publishers, librarians and others at risk.

Arizona won't enforce a revenge porn law that civil rights groups had called too broad, after an agreement between the Arizona Attorney General and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was confirmed in a final decree by a federal court judge.

“While this bill was sold as combatting ‘revenge porn,' it wasn't limited to that awful conduct,” ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project Staff Attorney Lee Rowland, wrote in a Friday blog post that characterized the law as “ridiculously overbroad.” 

The ACLU had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Arizona arguing that the law, which banned posting of nude images without prior consent, could capture news and artistic photographers in its net since it did not include a requirement that posters intended harm to the photos' subjects.

The law had been temporarily stayed last fall while the two sides negotiated, and when new AG Mark Brnovich assumed office in January, he opted not to fight the suit. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton made that stay permanent on Friday when she issued the final decree.

Media Coalition Executive Director David Horowitz, in a release, called the outcome “a complete victory for publishers, booksellers, librarians, photographers, and others against an unconstitutional law.”

Horowitz, whose organization's members were among the suit's plaintiffs, added, “Now they won't have to worry about being charged with a felony for offering newsworthy and artistic images.”

While Rowland acknowledged that advocates of revenge porn laws “tend to oppose intent requirements,” she wrote that “even the most well-intentioned laws can easily run afoul of the First Amendment if they aren't carefully crafted with the Constitution in mind.”

Noting “rampant” misogyny online, Rowland urged further conversation regarding revenge porn and enforcement of existing criminal laws as they pertain to revenge pornographers. “We can protect women without enacting laws that overstep the Constitution,” she said.

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