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John Oliver Wants the Government to Act on Revenge Porn, and He May Get His Wish

On his show last week, John Oliver tackled the issue of “revenge porn,” sexually explicit photos and videos that are posted online without the consent of the person. Often times, the media is taken during a relationship and uploaded later by a bitter ex. The big problem here is that there’s no federal law that makes the practice illegal. But that could change in a big way next month.

On July 23, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier will introduce the Intimate Privacy Protection Act, a long-stalled measure directed at just that. It would make for quite the jump, as only about half of U.S. states currently have legislation against “non-consensual nudes.”

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So far, 2015 is proving to be the year of replacing passive empathy with action. Only days ago, Google announced that it would remove non-consensual nude images from search results.

As Kristen V. Brown points out in her essay, Why did it take so long to ban revenge porn?, “This was a big deal. For women terrified of the thought of someone simply searching their name online, Google would now offer real, actionable relief.”

Brown also observes that, since February, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter have banned non-consensual nudes.

Oliver considers not just the problem of the act, but how it’s largely addressed, saying, “That whole distinctly victim-blaming sentiment of ‘'If you didn’t want this to happen, you shouldn’t have taken photos’ is hard-wired into mainstream culture.”

The comedian shows clip after clip of anchors and pundits shrugging off the incidents as easily fixed by the media never existing in the first place.

“Here’s a fun game,” Oliver adds, “Insert any other crime into those same sentences. ‘Listen, guys, if you don’t want to be burgled, don’t live in a house. If you’re a parent, how are you going to explain that break-in to your kids?”

Finally, Oliver mock-reassures his audience, “If passed, this law, as drafted, would make it a crime to post revenge porn. Now, don’t worry, it will still leave us with plenty of internet porn to keep us going.”

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