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State News: Assemblywoman Buttenschon and Senators Griffo and Savino Pass Bianca’s Law Criminalizing Unlawful Sharing of Personal Images

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenshon (D-Utica/Rome) announced a bill she sponsored creating criminal and civil penalties for disseminating personal images has passed the Assembly (A.1121-C)/ Senate (S.7211-B).

“Almost three years ago, the life of 17-year-old Bianca Devins was cut short in a senseless act of violence,” said Buttenschon. “Her tragic death was exploited for likes and follows after her attacker posted pictures of her body to various social media sites. Nobody should ever have to endure a trauma like this. Those social media users who spread these types of photos and videos should face consequences. This bill creates consequences for this type of behavior, and it is very close to becoming law.”

In July 2019, 17-year-old Bianca Devins of Utica was stabbed to death after attending a concert with her attacker. Her attacker took photographs of her body and posted them online, after which other people began posting them to various social media platforms, as well as sending them directly to members of Devins’ family.[1] The response to the spread of these photographs by social media sites, including Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, has been widely criticized as slow and inconsistent.

“The Legislature provided some solace to two grieving families with the passage of “Bianca and Caroline’s” law, said Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn), who sponsored the legislation in the Senate.  These families faced the horror of the brutal murders of their young daughters only to endure further victimization when the images were shared on social media. We must make sure that our laws keep pace with evolving technology. 

Publishing trophy photos of a crime victim on Facebook is one of the cruelest things a person could do. Caroline Wimmer’s family suffered twice: first when the 26-year-old was brutally murdered and again when they learned pictures of this vicious crime were heartlessly plastered on Facebook for entertainment by a public servant.  

I am proud Caroline’s family never gave up fighting for this important law. This problem has only grown since Caroline’s law was first introduced and passed in the Senate and now we are joined by the grieving yet strong family of Bianca Devins, who have joined the fight to stop the dissemination of these images.”

“I am pleased that this legislation, which I cosponsored, has been passed by the Senate and Assembly,” said Sen. Joseph A. Griffo (R-Utica). “It will hold those who decide to share and disseminate gruesome, disturbing and violent images online accountable and help to protect grieving families from experiencing the painful loss of their loved ones all over again.”

Buttenschon’s legislation would establish the crimes of unlawful dissemination of a personal image in the first and second degrees and create a right of private action for such offenses (A.1121-A). These images have no place on the internet and social media, and those individuals who attempt to capitalize from disseminating gruesome or demeaning images should face consequences for the trauma they cause, noted Buttenschon.

Mark Ziobro
Mark Ziobro
Mark is the current Managing Editor for The Utica Phoenix, and a Central New York Native.

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