California governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that could punish distributors of "revenge porn" with up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The bill, brought by Republican senator Anthony Cannella and passed overwhelmingly by the state legislature, makes California the second state to allow criminal prosecution of people who distribute photos or video of a lover or ex-lover online to humiliate them. While some lawsuits have been brought against sites whose policies — offering to take down photos for a fee — were arguably extortionate, this law would make the act of posting photos itself potentially illegal.

The bill, SB 255, essentially expands California's "Peeping Tom" laws, which prohibit people from secretly recording or photographing people in a state of undress. Under the new law, the misdemeanor will apply to anyone who takes intimate photos or video of someone with the understanding that they will remain private, then distributes them "with the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and the depicted person suffers serious emotional distress." The only other state with a similar law, New Jersey, classifies the act as a felony.

The ACLU initially objected to the bill under free speech concerns, but the group later said that it had not made a decision on whether to officially oppose it. Besides First Amendment questions, it's questionable how well the new law will address the problem. As written, it applies only to photos or videos taken by the offender, not any that are sent to them — which is, at least anecdotally, a much bigger problem. The "emotional distress" language also leaves a lot of room to object, and as with sexual assault or harassment cases, it's likely that plenty of accusations will end up being classified as "he said, she said." But for victims, there's now at least a legal framework to work within.