Christine Stuart photo
Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday. Rep. Matt Ritter is in the center. (Christine Stuart photo)

The Judiciary Committee gave its approval Wednesday to a bill that would make it a crime to publicly share nude photos or video of a former partner on the Internet or any other public venue.

The sharing of photos of ex-lovers, even if the images were originally captured with consent, on social media and the Internet is a phenomenon known as “revenge porn.” Connecticut is among more than 20 states trying to figure out how to criminalize it without violating the First Amendment.

Rep. Matthew Ritter, D-Hartford, said it’s really difficult to write the bill in a way that doesn’t violate the First Amendment. But he thinks the committee may have gotten it right Wednesday.

The bill was modified to say that the content should be considered revenge porn when it’s disseminated “with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, or terrorize another person.”

The bill also includes language that attempts to satisfy the concerns of the Connecticut American Civil Liberties Union, which warned of the First Amendment ramifications during a public hearing.

Sandra Staub, an attorney with the Connecticut ACLU, testified that “it’s not difficult to imagine situations in which people who voluntarily displayed nudity or partial nudity in public might later be alarmed or annoyed by distribution of the photographic evidence.”

She said Miley Cyrus may someday regret the deliberate exposure of “certain parts of her anatomy in her televised ‘twerking’ video. But that doesn’t mean anyone should be prosecuted for distributing the video or photographs.”

The language the committee adopted Wednesday seeks to exempt any photos or videos that were captured in a public or commercial space or those in which a person is not easily identifiable. A penalty in those cases would not apply.

But there are some lawmakers who were not satisfied with the penalty included in the bill. The penalty for sharing the photo or video would be a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by up to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine.

Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said the voyeurism bill makes the capturing of photos or video without the permission of an individual and the dissemination of them a Class D felony. She said she’s concerned with the reduced penalty for the revenge porn bill.

Ritter said there still may be some issues to work out and he thinks they will be able to work them out before it comes up for a vote on the floor.

The bill, which has been renamed “An Act Concerning the Unlawful Dissemination of an Intimate Image of Another Person” passed the committee 38-1.