Assemblywoman Buttenschon Passes Bianca’s Law Criminalizing the Unlawful Sharing of Personal Images

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

“Nearly 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. Bianca and her family deserve peace, and this legislation would ensure that those who share images online to degrade or humiliate others will be held accountable for their actions.”

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 deceased 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. Furthermore, YouTube videos and Twitter and Reddit threads dedicated to this horrific crime and to Devins, and innocent victim, have circulated throughout the internet for social media users to capitalize on her name and death.

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-B). 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.