Elena Scott/FUSION

It used to be that if a vengeful ex posted a naked photo of you online, there was little recourse. From the perspective of most law enforcement, posting nude images on the web without a subject's consent was simply not a crime. And websites where images appeared usually either declined to get involved or extorted victims to have them taken down.

A lot has changed. Google, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter have all banned so-called revenge porn on their platforms and 24 states now have laws on the books making it a crime. Next week, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier plans to introduce a federal law to ban revenge porn nationally.

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But the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a non-partisan think tank, thinks legislators, after passing a federal ban, need to do even more to protect victims of nonconsensual nudes. In a report published Wednesday, the ITIF demanded the creation of a special FBI unit that would help revenge porn victims and put pressure on tech companies to develop best practices for quickly removing law-violating content from their sites.

"Despite the seriousness of the problem, victims have inadequate means available to fight back," the report said. "Most victims cannot easily stop the spread of the images or take action against the perpetrator. Indeed, many of these images remain online forever."

Gabriella Penuela/FUSION

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The report points out that while 24 states have laws criminalizing non-consensual nudes, those laws often fall short. In California and Florida, for example, the laws have clauses limiting their application only to situations where whoever posted an image intended to harass the victim. But people who post X-rated images online, whether tweeting them, emailing them or uploading them to websites explicitly devoted to “nonconsensual nude photographs” (the term advocates prefer), aren't always doing it to harass or embarrass someone; sometimes they're doing it for other reasons, whether it's sheer pleasure in the nude form, exploitation of the images for profit or internet cred, or "expression" about what it means to be nude. Meanwhile, in the 26 states without such laws, victims can attempt to sue in civil court for things such as defamation, public disclosure of private fact or invasion of privacy, but those strategies don't always apply.

At a federal level, the FBI has only aggressively pursued cases where a perpetrator has also violated other laws, like hacking.

"In some states you’re not even calling the police, you’re calling a lawyer," said Daniel Castro, vice president of foundation and lead author of the report. "It’s important to recognize this is a criminal issue and provide assistance."

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An FBI unit dedicated to victims of revenge porn, he said, could provide a path to prosecuting cases for people who don't have access to attorneys. The FBI, he imagines, could provide victims with a 24-hour hotline to call that could  help them take quick steps to have images removed before they spread too far. The agency, the report suggests, should also produce an annual report to track the problem.

"We only see action when people have means to hire a lawyer," said Castro. "That’s the point of this. Action should be accessible to everybody."

The DOJ, the report said, also needs to step in and offer guidance to the private sector on how to handle abuse.

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Free speech advocates have long fought against revenge porn bans, arguing that a ban is a blow to freedom of speech. But anti-revenge porn advocates counter that a freedom of speech does not exist in a space where not everyone is safe.

"This gets to fundamental questions about what we want the Internet to be," said Castro. "We want the Internet to be a safe place to innovate, to create and share ideas. When it’s not going well, it’s time for lawmakers to get involved."