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ACLU Challenges Revenge Porn Law

The ACLU is challenging the so-called Arizona revenge porn law. This law makes it a felony to share pictures of naked people. The group filed a federal lawsuit claiming the law threatens free speech.  

One thing both sides agree on is that revenge porn is bad. The issue is with the language of the law.

Gayle Shanks owns Changing Hands Bookstore. She said the law is too broad.

“What I don’t get is why they didn’t limit to exactly that revenge porn," Shanks said. "When it moves into this realm what is legal and now legal to sell on your bookstore shelves it becomes a whole other issue.”

Shanks said she won’t pull books from her stores with art that include nude photos. Mary Anne Franks suggests a more narrowly tailored law that exempts photos for art or news purposes is an exception. She is the Vice President of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a group that advocates for laws against revenge porn.

She said the ACLU’s argument that the law needs to include intent is the problem.

“Would you only criminalize sexual assault when you meant to cause trauma to the person? There are some behaviors that malice is implied in the action itself," Franks said.

Both Franks and Arizona Representative J.D. Mesnard agree the lawsuit raises legitimate issues about criminalizing behavior that is innocent or culturally valuable.

Mesnard sponsored the bill and said he purposely didn’t add that exception.

“It does open or create situations of gray which is always tough when you are trying to pass a law where it’s black and white," Mesnard said. "That is one of the reasons we shied away from it in addition to knowing if this became an issue we could always add it later.”

Mesnard said he’s open to adding the public interest exception for art and news photos, this upcoming legislative session. 

Alexandra Olgin was a Senior Field Correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2016.