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California

California gives victims of revenge porn a new way to strike back

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Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris addresses a press conference held in February to discuss the verdict in a cyber exploitation trial in San Diego.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris announced a new state website to help victims of revenge porn have unauthorized intimate images and other personal information removed from websites.

The attorney general’s office also has launched an effort to educate local law enforcement agencies about laws designed to combat the crime and prosecute the offenders who post the images and Web services that profit from them.

Harris, at a press conference held in Los Angeles, said the state Department of Justice aggressively investigates the crimes, going after the host of the website, the person who posts the images and the people who profit from the posts.

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The announcement comes as Harris, a Democrat from San Francisco, ramps up her campaign to succeed Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate, and illustrates an inherent advantage incumbents have in attracting widespread media coverage.

Harris’s top Democratic rival in the Senate race is Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Garden Grove. The main Republicans in the race are Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside and two former chairmen of the California Republican Party, Contra Costa County lawyer Tom Del Beccaro and Silicon Valley attorney George “Duf” Sundheim.

Harris said the new resource for victims of cyber exploitation was created with the help of a task force she convened in January that included 50 major technology companies, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter. Law enforcement officials and academic researchers also were on the task force.

Harris said 90% of the victims of cyber exploitation are women. In some cases, former boyfriends have posted intimate images of victims on websites to humiliate and embarrass them, even listing home addresses or other contact information that led to harassment.

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“Overwhelmingly, the Internet has been a force for good. But clearly there is a dark side,” said John Doherty, the Sacramento-based vice president of state policy and politics for TechNet, a national trade group.

The new website explains how victims of cyber exploitation can contact different technology companies to have images, including photos and videos, removed. The site also includes contract information for law enforcement agencies where the crimes can be reported.

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