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Cuomo calls for tougher 'revenge porn' laws, penalties

ALBANY – Individuals convicted of engaging in “revenge porn” and sexual extortion will be required to register as sex offenders under a plan Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed Thursday.

Cuomo said he wants stronger penalties against those who disseminate or threaten to disclose sexual images or videos of someone without their consent, which is known as revenge porn. The plan also targets sextortion, which typically involves threats to disseminate private information about someone unless they provide money or sexual favors or images.

“The dangerous proliferation of sextortion and revenge crimes disproportionately targets young women and girls and causes harm and embarrassment that can follow victims their entire lives,’’ Cuomo said Thursday.

New York State earlier this year joined some 40 states with specific revenge porn laws on the books.

Besides requiring registration as a sex offender, the new package proposed by Cuomo would toughen prison sentences for convictions of the most serious offenses involving revenge porn; a Class C felony conviction, for instance, would be punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The crime package also would make it specifically illegal to try to get sexual favors or images of someone by threatening “his or her health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.’’

The Cuomo administration cited a Brookings Institute report from 2016 that found 71 percent of sextortion cases involved victims under the age of 18 – and the heavy majority were females. That May 2016 report generally defined sextortion as “old-fashioned extortion or blackmail, carried out over a computer network, involving some threat – generally but not always a threat to release sexually-explicit images of the victim – if the victim does not engage in some form of further sexual activity.’’

Four crimes would be classified under the new proposal, including unlawful publication of sexual images and sexual extortion.

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