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Revenge porn may be more widespread than previously believed
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New data finds that revenge porn may be more widespread than previously thought as lawmakers in the UK and U.S. scramble to draft legislation to combat it. - photo by Chandra Johnson
New data out of the United Kingdom lent some limited context to the problem of revenge porn: Specifically, it's more widespread than previously known.

In just six months, nearly 200 cases of revenge porn were reported to authorities that is, the sharing of photos or videos of someone online without their consent. The numbers, retrieved and reported by The Guardian through a Freedom of Information Act request also found that victims varied widely in age, from 12 to 58.

Because the data didn't include case numbers from the Metropolitan Police force, the country's largest police agency, the actual number of cases is suspected to be much higher, The Guardian reported.

England and Wales made revenge porn illegal early in 2015 punishable by up to two years in prison but the new data provoked conversation about further measures that may be needed.

Revenge porn is a horrific crime which regularly leads to victims contemplating suicide. It is vital that the police and the government do more to support victims who come forward and ensure longer prison terms for the perpetrators," Steven George-Hilley, director of technology at the thinktank Parliament Street, told The Guardian.

Similar debates about making revenge porn illegal in the U.S. have been more scattered. As of 2014, 15 states have made revenge porn illegal, and earlier this year a California man running a revenge porn website was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Yet it remains legal in most states and only last year, after millions of nude photographs of celebrities were hacked and leaked, have websites like Reddit and Google begun to take steps to ban revenge porn.

In many cases, it may not be good enough, wrote Slate's Amanda Hess in February, but it's a start.

"It puts the onus on revenge porn victims to alert administrators after the fact, not on users to gain consent before posting," Hess argued.