NEFAC Asks Rhode Island Governor to Protect Press Freedom in ‘Revenge Porn’ Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | justin@nefac.org

JAN. 18 LETTER

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently called on Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to protect press rights in any legislation she introduces to address revenge pornography.

Revenge pornography is commonly considered the sharing of images depicting adult nudity without the consent of the person pictured. Such images are often shared to humiliate or embarrass the people depicted in them.

Both Raimondo and the state’s attorney general introduced bills last year to criminalize the practice. Raimondo initially supported a bill that included an intent requirement that helped protect the interests of news organizations. But the governor and attorney general ultimately agreed to a compromise version of their two bills that lacked such protections. The bill did not go to vote, though it’s expected a new bill will be introduced.

In a Jan. 18 letter, NEFAC — as well as the ACLU of Rhode Island, Media Coalition and the Rhode Island Press Association — asked Raimondo to only support legislation that adequately protects news organizations.

“We greatly appreciate your and others’ interest in addressing the issue of
‘revenge porn’,” the groups wrote, “but now more than ever, it is critical to recognize the importance — and fragility — of our First Amendment freedoms and to not pass legislation that, however unintentionally, erodes this basic right.”

NEFAC regularly opposed efforts in Rhode Island last year to criminalize revenge pornography at the expense of First Amendment rights.

“Responsible publishers and journalists do not engage in this kind of activity,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “It’s important that they aren’t inadvertently included in revenge porn legislation and punished for publishing news.”

The letter is the latest effort by NEFAC to protect First Amendment freedoms in Rhode Island. Most recently, NEFAC urged support for student journalists, testified in favor of broad access to public records and asked the governor to support open meeting law changes.


NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, Lois Howe McClure, The Boston Globe and Boston University. Celebration Supporters include The Hartford Courant and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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