Senator Leyva Introduces FLASH Act to Ban Sending Unsolicited Lewd Pictures and Videos

SB 1182 Tackles Cyber Flashing—“A Modern Form of Sexual Harassment”

Thursday, February 20, 2020

SACRAMENTO – Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) and Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) today introduced the FLASH (Forbid Lewd Activity and Sexual Harassment) Act, which would establish legal protections for technology users when they receive unsolicited sexually explicit images and videos—also known as ‘cyber flashing’.

Sponsored by Bumble—a woman-first, global social networking app founded and helmed by Whitney Wolfe Herd—SB 1182 would create an infraction, punishable by $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense, for an individual that knowingly transmits unsolicited lewd or sexually explicit material by electronic means. 

“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. I look forward to fighting alongside Bumble and our bill coauthors to protect Californians from this outrageous behavior.”

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.  This behavior occurs via social media, dating platforms, text messages and email. In some cases, unsolicited sexually explicit material is ‘AirDropped’ in public spaces to unsuspecting recipients.

SB 1182 sponsor Bumble also noted the importance of passing this important legislation.

“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. There is a great deal of opportunity when it comes to creating laws that protect us in the digital world and our work with Senator Leyva and her office is a very exciting step in that direction,” stated Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd.

Currently serving as Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Senator Leyva previously authored legislation signed into law to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape (SB 813) in 2016, to criminalize sextortion (SB 500) in 2017, to ban secret settlements in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sex discrimination (SB 820) in 2018, and to require the prompt testing of rape kits (SB 22) in 2019.

Several legislators have already signed on in formal support of SB 1182, including Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) as joint author, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) as principal coauthor and Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) and Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) as coauthors.

The FLASH Act will be considered by the appropriate Senate committee(s) later this spring.