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'Revenge porn' Facebook post leads to jail sentence

Facebook Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Iniguez posted a photograph of his ex-girlfriend naked as part of efforts to get her fired

A man has been jailed after breaking a "revenge porn" law introduced in California last October.

Noe Iniguez posted a photograph of his ex-girlfriend naked to her employer's Facebook page alongside derogatory comments.

The 36-year-old is the first person to be convicted under the new law.

Thirteen US states have enacted revenge porn laws over the past two years. England and Wales are also making it a criminal offence.

However, it remains a contentious issue.

Restraining order

California's revenge porn law bans the posting of nude or sexual images of an individual, including selfies, with the purpose of causing emotional distress.

Los Angeles-based Iniguez posted the photograph of his victim in March, accompanied by a message that called her a "drunk" and a "slut" and urged her employer to fire her. He used an alias in an attempt to hide his identity.

The woman had previously secured a restraining order against him after receiving abusive text messages following the break-up of their four-year-long relationship in 2011.

Iniguez was sentenced to one year in jail, 36 months of probation and instructed to attend domestic violence counselling after being found guilty of breaking the revenge porn law and violating a restraining order.

"California's new revenge porn law gives prosecutors a valuable tool to protect victims whose lives and reputations have been upended by a person they once trusted," said state prosecutor Mike Feuer.

"This conviction sends a strong message that this type of malicious behaviour will not be tolerated."

'Too broad'

Revenge porn laws are intended to make it easier for prosecutors to gain convictions for internet-based offences without having to appeal to pre-existing laws governing harassment and other offences.

Image caption Arizona's efforts to introduce its own revenge porn law have run into problems

California enacted a relatively tough law, requiring prosecutors to prove perpetrators had intended to cause distress at the time of their actions.

But other states have attempted to take a broader approach.

Arizona tried to ban all posts showing anyone "in a state of nudity or engaged in specific sexual activities" unless the person pictured had given their explicit permission.

This prompted a backlash from free speech campaigners, who suggested it would have prevented newspapers publishing pictures of abused naked prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

A judge subsequently halted enforcement of Arizona's law until it was rewritten.

'Child abuse tech'

England and Wales' new Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is set to make "the distribution of a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress" illegal.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption England and Wales' revenge porn law will include images sent via text message

This will include images posted to social networks including Facebook and Twitter, as well as "offline" sharing via text messages. Those convicted will face a maximum two-year jail sentence.

The Scottish government has said that it is exploring the introduction of its own revenge porn law. And a member of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party has urged the nation's justice minister to introduce its own legislation.

The former Culture Secretary Maria Miller has, however, called for further action.

On Monday the Tory MP urged internet firms to adopt the same technologies they already used to prevent the spread of child abuse images in order to stop the proliferation of revenge porn pictures.

"This sort of industry-wide approach is what we should all expect from a mature, multinational sector of our economy," she said.

"We should not expect the burdens of removing illegal images from commercial websites to be solely the responsibility of the police.

"And if websites are hosted in more obscure countries then splash pages should be used to block illegal pornography images from being viewed in the UK in exactly the same way as they have been used to block child abuse images."

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