By Dustin Volz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced long-stalled legislation on Thursday that would make it a federal crime to share sexually explicit material of a person online without the subject’s consent.

The "Intimate Privacy Protection Act" is an effort several years in the making to combat the rise in recent years of “revenge porn,” images that are shared on the internet in order to extort or humiliate someone. The practice disproportionately affects women.

“These acts of bullying have ruined careers, families, and even led to suicide,” Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat and lead author of the bill, said in a statement.

The legislation would allow fines and up to five years in prison for posting online or distributing sexually explicit photos or videos with “reckless disregard” for the consent of the subject. More than 30 states have enacted similar laws in recent years.

Exceptions listed in the bill would allow for posting material that is in the public interest or that features a person voluntarily posing nude in a public or commercial setting.

The bill stalled for years amid concerns raised by technology companies and internet freedom advocates worried that service providers such as Alphabet Inc's YouTube could be exposed to liability for acting as third-party hosts of revenge porn content shared by users.

Speier’s bill, which was introduced with support from Facebook and Twitter, exempts such companies as long as they do not promote or solicit revenge porn content.

Many tech companies have tightened their terms of service in recent years to prohibit revenge porn. Those companies typically rely on users to report objectionable content to teams of human reviewers who delete content found to violate terms of service.

Democratic Representatives Katherine Clark and Gregory Meeks and Republican Representatives Ryan Costello and Tom Rooney joined the bill as original co-sponsors.

(Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Leslie Adler)