Senate Committee approves Wieckowski bill to enhance protection of cyber retaliation victims

SB 157 strengthens privacy protections of revenge porn victims

April 4, 2017

Sacramento – The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved a bill by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to improve  privacy protections for victims of cyber retaliation (revenge porn) so they can maintain their privacy in all court proceedings and documents when their intimate images are distributed without their consent.  Senate Bill 157 now goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“SB 157 builds upon current California law to ensure that when a victim comes forward using a pseudonym, there are actions that the plaintiff, defendant and court shall follow to protect their privacy throughout the entire process,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Judiciary Committee.  “These are serious and very harmful crimes being committed, primarily against women, and I do not want any victim denied her day in court or her right to privacy because of a fear her identity will be revealed.”

In 2014, Wieckowski authored AB 2643, which created a right for a cyber retaliation victim to sue for the non-consensual and intentional distribution of intimate images where the victim had a reasonable expectation of privacy and was harmed by the distribution. 

SB 157 expands the confidentiality protections to additional materials, including discovery documents, and prohibits a defendant or a defendant’s attorney from revealing any identifying characteristics to the media.

Witnesses testifying in support of the bill said the privacy protections are necessary to get victims to come forward.

“There is a prevailing public policy interest here,” said Christina Gagnier, who leads the Internet, Intellectual Property and Technology practice at Gagnier Margossian LLP. “Victims are often nonconsensually being abused by this content and if we are forcing them to have to go through the legal system, and revictimize themselves, it is essentially a deterrent for those victims coming forth in the first place to seek justice.”

A study published by the Data & Society Research Institute concluded that roughly 10 million Americans have been victims of cyber retaliation.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes parts of Alameda and Santa County.