Senator Leyva’s Legislation to Ban Sending Unsolicited Lewd Pictures and Videos Advances to Assembly

SB 53 Would Empower Survivors of ‘Cyber Flashing’

Monday, January 31, 2022

SACRAMENTO – With strong bipartisan support, the California State Senate today passed important legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) to establish legal protections for technology users when they receive unsolicited sexually explicit images and videos—known as ‘cyber flashing.’

Also known as the FLASH (Forbid Lewd Activity and Sexual Harassment) Act and sponsored by Bumble—a woman-first, global social networking app founded and helmed by Whitney Wolfe Herd—SB 53 would create a private right of action against any person who knows or reasonably should know that the lewd image transmitted is unsolicited.

“I appreciate the Senate’s support of SB 53, as we are now one step closer to finally holding perpetrators of ‘cyber flashing’ accountable for their abusive behavior and actions,” Senator Leyva said.  “This form of technology-based sexual harassment is far more pervasive than many Californians realize, so it is important that we empower survivors that receive these unwanted images or videos.”

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.  Furthermore, the majority of women who received unprompted sexually explicit images reported being sent this material through various social media platforms, such as Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  This behavior also occurs via dating platforms, text messages and email. In some cases, unsolicited sexually explicit material is even ‘AirDropped’ in public spaces to unsuspecting recipients.

Legislators in both the Senate and Assembly have signed on in support of the FLASH Act, including Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) as principal coauthors and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley), Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) and Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) as coauthors.

Supported by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, California Police Chiefs Association, California State Sheriffs' Association, California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, California Women's Law Center, Feminist Majority Foundation, Internet Association, Leda Health, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, Students Against Sexual Assault and The Purple Campaign, the FLASH Act will now move to the California State Assembly for consideration.

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