The House and Senate version of legislation that would beef up Florida’s criminal penalties for stealing an individual’s sexually explicit pictures and other sexual image-related crimes passed their final committees Monday.
Republican Rep. Joe Harding’s bill (HB 1453) passed the House Judiciary Committee unanimously with little discussion. Democratic Sen. Lauren Book’s measure (SB 1798) passed Senate Appropriations through the committee’s consent agenda.
The legislation targets deepfakes, which are images or videos that make it look as if a person said or did something that they did not. The measure also stiffens penalties for revenge porn and other sex-related crimes. The bill:
— Prohibits someone from knowingly, willfully and maliciously disseminating deepfake sexually explicit images without the victim’s consent, making it a third-degree felony.
— Establishes new standards for Florida’s “revenge porn” statute by criminalizing the theft of sexually explicit images off another person’s phone or digital device with the intent to distribute or benefit from them in some way.
— Increases existing civil damages where victims will now be entitled to seek up to $10,000 against the individual who has willfully and knowingly chosen to inflict this kind of intimate terror.
— Prohibits deepfakes of identifiable minors engaging in sex acts.
— Stiffens penalties for possession of an obscene child-like sex doll to a third-degree felony on any offense.
During Monday’s House committee meeting, Harding said it is important for the state to stay on the forefront of protecting people from digital sex-related crimes.
“As technology changes, criminals and people who intend to do harm get smarter,” Harding said. “It’s important that we update Florida law to ensure we are not going to allow someone to target folks to do harm and use technology to further that endeavor.”
During a committee meeting in January, Book said she was victimized last year when intimate images were stolen from her and other sexually explicit deepfake images of Book were created. Book is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
She said the legislation is meant to allow people who carry out those crimes to get the penalties they deserve, and protect people across the state from being targeted like she was.
“I am not alone. This is happening to people across the state of Florida and all over the world, every single day. Teachers. Social workers. Nurses. Moms. Teenagers,” Book said. “Images are being stolen from digital devices. Deepfakes are growing exponentially online.”
Both bills now await consideration by their entire respective legislative chamber.