Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book introduced and advanced Senate Bill 1798 (SB 1798) in the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee today that aims to curb the growing endemic of “cyber trafficking,” a practice where both real and stolen images are uploaded to the Internet for people to buy, sell, trade, and exploit. The legislation additionally renames the crime of “child pornography” to “child sexual abuse material” to better identify the heinous act of this internet revictimization.
The bill, initially filed on Jan. 7, was moved to the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs subcommittee before being introduced to the Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday morning. The bill was approved by a unanimous margin of 9 ‘yeas’ to 0 ‘nays’.
“The law has simply not caught up with technology,” explained Book. “This bill will transform the way the state of Florida prosecutes and enforces ‘cyber trafficking,’ where images are uploaded to the darkest corners of the Internet for people to buy, sell, trade, and use however else they see fit. Horrifically, once these images are online, they never truly go away.”
As approved by the Criminal Justice Committee, SB 1798 would prohibit someone from knowingly, willfully, and maliciously disseminating “deepfake” sexually explicit images without the victim’s consent, establish new standards for our state’s “revenge porn” statute by criminalizing the theft of sexually explicit images off of another person’s digital device with the intent to distribute or benefit from them in some way, increase existing civil damages where victims will now be entitled to seek up to $10,000 in damages against the individual who has willfully and knowingly chosen to inflict this kind of intimate terror, and rename the crime of “child pornography” to “child sexual abuse material.”
“Today is an excellent first step at updating our laws to reflect the added layers of terror and victimization that are emerging due to the digital world we live in,” said Book. “By updating the law to identify cyber trafficking and accurately re-identify ‘child pornography’ to its correct term of ‘child sexual abuse material,’ we have given victims of these crimes hope that they will be heard, and their abusers and traffickers will be held accountable under the law.”
Book is also the founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids, a south Florida-based nonprofit that educates both children and adults about sexual abuse prevention through in-school curricula, awareness campaigns, and speaking engagements.
“It’s time to give victims some hope and bad actors a reason to think twice – not for me, but for the hundreds and thousands of other Floridians who fall victim to these dehumanizing and heinous acts,” the Senate leader concluded.