Could Arizona’s ‘Revenge Porn’ Bill Make Iconic Images Criminal?

Sep 23, 2014

Booksellers and others asked a federal judge today to void a new state law aimed at “revenge porn” because it also could land them in prison. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

State Rep. J.D. Mesnard
Credit Paul Atkinson/KJZZ


The law makes it a crime to publish or display naked pictures of others without permission. It’s aimed at situations where people have shared intimate photos, the relationship ends badly and the images wind up online. But, Lee Rowland of the American Civil Liberties Union said the law also makes criminals out of those who publish legitimate pictures.

“The law has no intent requirement. It has no harm requirement. It has no requirement that a person have an expectation of privacy in the images. In fact, it doesn’t even require that the person pictured be recognizable or identifiable,” Rowland said.

She said it even would criminalize publication of that iconic photo of the naked Vietnamese girl running down the street after her clothes were burned off with napalm. Rep. J.D. Mesnard who sponsored the legislation said he’s willing to consider exceptions — up to a point.

“In my view it is not OK to use an exception like some kind of iconic image or whatever which might do some good in the eyes of some folks to then negate a bill that also will do some good for those who are being harmed far more commonly and far more regularly than the one or two iconic images that could hypothetically get caught up in this,” Mesnard said.

No date has been set for a court hearing.