It has been called watered down and weaker than expected, but rather than pointing out its flaws, we should all follow the attitude of Deborah Baker-Egozi, president of the Miami-Dade Florida Association for Women Lawyers: Florida’s revenge-porn law “is a great step in the right direction.”
Admittedly, the law is different from the one originally drafted by University of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks, who is also legislative and policy director for the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. Its narrow definition limits the law to the unauthorized publication of intimate images to Internet website[s], but excludes publications by way of email or text message. That limitation is, no doubt, an issue, but the law’s critics are leaving an unnecessary shadow over its civil component, which is a gem.
Section 784.049 (5) permits a victim to file a civil lawsuit against a perpetrator of revenge porn and expressly authorizes the recovery of monetary damages. The law also authorizes the recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs by a prevailing plaintiff. Similar to the other revenge-porn laws across the country with civil components, in Florida, victims will have leverage over their perpetrators, who may not be smirking so much with the risk of fees and costs hanging over their heads.
We’ve put in place a method of empowering our lawyers to do more pro bono work because recovery of fees and costs is possible, and there is a way for victims to get compensated for economic and emotional harm.
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Let’s be happy about all the good this does, and then get to work on fixing the rest.
Elisa D’Amico, co-founder, K&L Gates’ Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, Miami