State Sen. David Carlucci was joined by local law enforcement officials and representatives from women’s advocacy organizations on Friday to introduce new legislation that would come down on those who post private, intimate photos of people online without the person’s consent.
“We’re here today to really update and strengthen out surveillance laws in the state of New York because every person has a right to privacy,” he said. “Right now, under the New York state penal law, a person cannot use a device to record or broadcast a person during a state of address without their acknowledgement or their consent. However, there is a dangerous loophole that exists, and this was brought to my attention a few months ago.”
The situation was actually first brought to the Clarkstown Police Department. A women went to them because an intimate photo of her and another person was posted online without her consent. When the police looked into what they could do, they found a loophole that said they couldn’t pursue the suspect because the victim’s private parts were not exposed in the picture, while the suspect’s were.
“This woman was clearly being victimized and harassed by this other person,” Carlucci said. “Because of the loophole that exists, there was no recourse. This person could not be brought to justice, and that photograph could just be out there to torment this person from now until eternity.”
The Clarkstown Police Department brought the issue to Carlucci. On Friday,he was joined at the police station by Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, Clarkstown Chief of Police Michael Sullivan, Rockland Family Shelter Executive Director Carolyn Fish, Rockland Family Shelter Director of Special Victims Unit and Sexual Trauma Services Kiera Pollack and Phyllis Frank and Joseph Coe, of Volunteer Counseling Services.
The law states that “a person can be charged with unlawful surveillance in the second degree if an individual uses a device to view, broadcast or record a person in the same image together with the sexual or other intimate parts of any other person.” Many who spoke on Friday said that with the changing technology, changes or additions such as the proposed legislation are needed.
“When we see these new offenses emerging, we try to fit them into existing laws, but sometimes they just don’t fit and we find these gaping voids that have to be filled,” Zugibe said.
Zugibe added that looking back through some previous cases, the proposed legislation is “long overdue.”
“This issue speaks to a much wider issue than this specific case because what we’re dealing with right now in today’s age is a proliferation of technology with the advancements of new mobile technology that can easily take high-resolution photographs, with internet sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, we see that there is a proliferation of this type of activity,” Carlucci said. “The law that we’re bringing forth is really to bring the New York state penal code into the 21st Century.”
Fish and Frank both talked about their dealings with victims of similar cases, and commended Carlucci for bringing the issue to the state level. Pollack said she’s dealt with situations where a person will threaten to release or post such photos online to keep someone from breaking up with them or leaving.
“This law will help address that issue if it comes up for these survivors, that they have the ability to report to the police and get appropriate justice and hold offenders accountable, which I think is our goal here in Rockland,” she said.