(TNS) -- Technology has been racing along on a high-speed track — for which we are grateful. But our laws are often plodding along at the pace of ox-driven carts.
So it’s catch-up time here in Massachusetts on the rather dicey issue of laws that govern the sharing of sexually explicit images — especially so-called revenge porn and teen sexting.
More than half of the other states have already dealt with this growing problem, which means there are plenty of models out there from which to choose. So this week the Baker administration filed its version which has the support of prosecutors and victim advocates.
The bill closes a gap in state law and makes it a felony for adults to distribute a sexually explicit image for purposes of revenge or embarrassment. That would carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and fines of as much as $10,000.
The idea, of course, isn’t to throw a lot of folks in prison — but to make those who would use the internet to rob someone of their dignity and their privacy think twice about the consequences.
So too teens who mistakenly think it’s just cool to share explicit photos of a classmate. Now short of handing out some miraculous impulse control vaccine, adults — even those in law enforcement — are stuck with, again, a law that doesn’t reflect the times.
Sure, teens sharing photos could be charged with distribution of child pornography, a felony. As Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley put it, “Right now prosecutors reviewing juvenile sexting cases usually find themselves with the poor choice of pursuing extremely serious charges or no charges as all.”
The Baker bill would give prosecutors discretion to charge juveniles with a misdemeanor and create an “educational diversion program” aimed at keeping some out of the juvenile justice system.
This bill deserves swift approval by the Legislature.
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