Democratic Co-Lead Rep. Meeks Statement on
the Introduction of the ENOUGH Act
the Introduction of the ENOUGH Act
“In this digital age, people can become victims of sexual harassment in an instant, turning their whole lives upside down. Four years ago, Rep. Jackie Speier and I first began working on federal legislation to address the problem of nonconsensual pornography. Since then, thirty-five states have enacted statutes to combat this heinous practice. Statutes differ from state to state and unfortunately, the adoption of such laws has not been ubiquitous. It is therefore up to Congress to step in and enact a federal law finally criminalizing nonconsensual pornography.
“This act would not only establish criminal punishment for these serious privacy violations, but would also do so in specific and narrow ways that would respect the First Amendment and civil liberties. In our digital world, it is crucial we enact new laws that both protect our rights as citizens and the safety of our private content.”
The ENOUGH ACT would:
Ensure that the Department of Justice has an appropriate and effective tool to address these serious privacy violations. Narrowly establish federal criminal liability for individuals who share private, explicit images without consent.
Strike an effective balance between protecting the victims of these serious privacy violations and ensuring that vibrant online speech is not burdened. A prosecution under the ENOUGH Act would require proving that the defendant was aware of a substantial risk that the victim expected the image would remain private and that the sharing could cause harm to the victim.
A prosecution would also have to prove that no reasonable person would consider the shared image to touch on a matter of public concern. Other original cosponsors of this legislation in the House of Representatives include: Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Walter Jones (R-NC), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and Tom Rooney (R-FL).
A copy of the bill text can be found here, and a one-page summary of the bill can be found here.
Quotes from the bicameral cosponsors and groups that support the act are listed below:
“For victims of nonconsensual pornography, technology today makes it possible to destroy a person’s life with the click of a button or a tap on a cell phone. The damage caused by these attacks can crush careers, tear apart families, and, in the worst cases, has led to suicide,” Congresswoman Speier said. “What makes these acts even more despicable is that many predators have gleefully acknowledged that the vast majority of their victims have no way to fight back. Even in states that have laws on the books, the average person can’t afford to take on these predators in civil courts. Worse are the numerous victims who have mustered the courage and strength to pursue criminal charges, only to learn there is no law that protects them. The ENOUGH Act will fix this gaping hole in our legal system.”
“Victims of nonconsensual pornography have had their lives turned upside down and often feel desperate, trapped, and isolated,” said Rep. Clark. “Protecting them means our laws must catch up with the realities of an online world in which millions are navigating their personal and professional lives.”
“The nonconsensual sharing of private images can be very damaging to careers and families. Some individuals have even taken their own lives. That is why the ENOUGH Act is so important,” said Rep. Costello. “While Pennsylvania and other states have passed laws to address nonconsensual pornography, this legislation would go a step further, and establish necessary and appropriate federal standards for responding to these criminal acts.”
“The consequences of nonconsensual pornography are real: devastated careers, broken families, and shattered lives.” said Rep. Meehan. “There should be penalties for exploiting victims and this legislation will ensure that the perpetrators of these acts will have to pay the price.”
"We, here in Congress, must continuously work to make sure our laws protect victims from these new risks,” said Rep. Rooney. “The ENOUGH Act establishes a federal criminal penalty for individuals who share private and explicit images without consent.”
“Perpetrators of exploitation who seek to humiliate and shame their victims must be held accountable. It is long past time for the federal government to take action to give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on these crimes,” said Senator Harris
“It’s time to update the law and ensure that individuals who maliciously exploit the private information and images of their victims are held accountable under criminal statute. New technologies can make our lives better, but they also open a new platform for abuse and exploitation. Congress needs to help our laws adapt to this new era and this bill will provide the tools needed to stop these acts,” said Senator Burr.
“As a former prosecutor, I know the importance of a victim-centered approach in the fight against online exploitation. Our bipartisan legislation ensures that we put the needs of victims of nonconsensual online exploitation first and provide law enforcement with resources to help bring perpetrators of these crimes to justice,” said Senator Klobuchar.
“Facebook supports the bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Speier and Costello as well as Sens. Harris and Burr to outlaw the use of intimate content to intentionally shame, embarrass or control someone. Around the country, states have passed legislation to criminalize this abhorrent practice. We stand with safety and consumer advocates in pushing for the same at the federal level,” said Erin Egan, VP of US Public Policy, Facebook.
“In a world where smart phones and devises are used to record and transmit every moment in life, it is becoming increasingly important to protect against malicious sharing of private, explicit images. These online privacy violations exponentially and disproportionately target women and minors. While 35 states have enacted statutes in this area, federal intervention is necessary to provide complete and consistent coverage across state lines. This important bill would narrowly establish federal criminal liability for individuals who share private, explicit images without consent, while including civil liberty safeguards to ensure that only those who share with malicious intent are liable,” said William Johnson, Executive Director of National Association of Police Organizations
"We are grateful to the ENOUGH Act's bipartisan, bicameral supporters for protecting the victims of 'revenge porn,' ‘sextortion’ and other online crimes. With sexual predators increasingly turning to the Internet to do harm, we need effective tools for addressing these serious privacy violations. We look forward to working with Congress to help pass this bill," said Rebecca O’Connor, Vice President of Public Policy, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Organizational and Individual Support for The ENOUGH Act (2017)
National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys (NAAUSA)
National District Attorneys Association (NDAA)
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA)
Major County Sheriffs of America
National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO)
Women’s Rights and Family Issues
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Family Online Safety Institute
Women’s Media Center
Cyber Civil Rights Initiative
National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)
Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Mary Anne Franks, University of Miami School of Law
Danielle Keats Citron, University of Maryland School of Law
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