Proos: Outlaw distribution of graphic images

After a breakup, exes sometimes take ‘cyber revenge’

LANSING, Mich. — Pornography, distributed as a means for revenge on a former partner, would be criminalized in Michigan under legislation supported by Sen. John Proos and recently approved by the Senate.

The bills address distribution of sexually graphic images of an individual without his or her consent, as well as posting online images originally obtained with consent within the context of a private relationship.

“We live in a time of great technological advancements. Unfortunately, in some cases, oppressors abuse these advancements to intimidate or harass a former partner or to ruin their reputation,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This isn’t about art or speech — it’s about using the power of the Internet to destroy someone’s life.”

Senate Bills 508 and 509 would make it illegal in Michigan to disseminate or post online any sexually explicit images of another person without that person’s written permission. Under the bills, first-time offenders would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail, a fine of $500 or both. Subsequent violations could result in a year in prison, a $1,000 fine or both.

“Posting graphic images of an individual without their consent is a growing problem in America that affects both men and women, and it should not be tolerated,” Proos said. “In addition to pictures taken by a partner, the bills would also apply to malicious hackers who steal personal images and then post them online or send them to a victim’s family or co-workers.

“I supported these bipartisan bills because Michigan should join the 26 other states in standing up for victims of this breach of trust.”

The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative aims to bring awareness to and reduce the occurrence of harassment on the Internet. To learn more, visit the initiative’s campaign on the issue at

According to the initiative, 70 percent of victims say their material was posted by an ex-boyfriend, an ex-girlfriend or a family member. More than half of victims have had suicidal thoughts due to their experience and 49 percent say they have been harassed or stalked online by users who have seen the material.

SBs 508 and 509 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.


Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s website at Click on “Audio” under the Media Center tab.