Two US senators have introduced a bill to ban cyber-flashing and penalize repeat offenders with hefty fines.
The term “cyber-flashing” describes the act of sending unsolicited sexually explicit images and videos to strangers. Lewd images can be sent via social media, dating platforms, text messages, and email.
In some cases, unsolicited sexually explicit material is sent to unsuspecting recipients in public spaces via the iPhone AirDrop function.
According to the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of young American women and 37 percent of young American men have been sent unsolicited explicit material while online.
The bill, otherwise known as SB 1182 or as the FLASH (Forbid Lewd Activity and Sexual Harassment) Act, was introduced yesterday by senators Connie Levya and Lena Gonzalez.
“It is unacceptable that any person would ever be sent a sexually explicit picture or video without their consent. SB 1182 will finally hold these perpetrators accountable,” Senator Leyva said.
“Cyber flashing—which primarily affects women—is a modern form of sexual harassment, and we have to put a stop to this inexcusable and offensive behavior.
“When over half of all young women have received unwanted explicit pictures and videos, it is clear that this problem has reached epidemic levels.”
Under the new legislation, first-time offenders would receive a $500 fine, while serial cyber-flashers would be fined $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
Bumble, a dating app that, when helping to pair up heterosexual couples, requires women to initiate contact, has voiced its support for the new bill.
Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble CEO, said: “An overwhelming majority of our time is spent online and there are simply not enough laws and deterrents in place to protect us, and women and children in particular.
“It falls upon us in the technology and social media space to work hand in hand with local government and legislators to isolate the problems and develop solutions just like the FLASH Act being introduced by Senator Leyva.”
The FLASH Act is due to be considered by a committee or committees in the Senate later this spring.
Earlier this week, cyber-flashing made the headlines in the UK when the British Transport Police revealed that the recorded incidents of unsolicited lewd images being AirDropped to women on trains had doubled.
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