Assembly Judiciary Committee Passes Leyva Bill to Ban Sending Unsolicited Lewd Pictures and Videos

Empowering Survivors of ‘Cyberflashing’, SB 53 Again Earned Bipartisan Support

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, the Assembly Judiciary Committee 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 ‘cyberflashing.’

Also known as the FLASH (Forbid Lewd Activity and Sexual Harassment) Act and sponsored by Bumble—the women-first dating and social networking app—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.

“It is critical that we are able to hold perpetrators of cyberflashing accountable for their offensive and abusive behavior,” Senator Leyva stated.  “SB 53 tackles this modern form of sexual harassment by developing legal protections for Californians that receive these unwanted pictures or videos.  By stopping this terrible behavior before it escalates further, the FLASH Act will help to protect residents—particularly young women—across our state from this technology-based sexual harassment that can have truly long lasting and devastating consequences.”

In March, Bumble commissioned a survey and found that nearly one out of two (46%)* respondents within the United States had received an unsolicited lewd photo within their lifetime, and 54%* of those who had been sent one shared that they were not happy to have received it.  Of the survey respondents who reported that they have received an unsolicited lewd image, one out of two (50%)* have received at least one unsolicited image within the past year and nearly one in three (29%)* respondents reported that they have received an unsolicited lewd image within the past month.

“We are proud to be working alongside Senator Leyva and many bipartisan lawmakers to help pass SB 53,” said Payton Iheme, Bumble’s Head of Public Policy for the Americas. “We look forward to California joining Virginia and Texas in helping to make the internet a safer place.”

According to the Pew Research Center, “social media platforms are an especially fertile ground for online harassment, but these behaviors occur in a wide range of online venues.” (1) This behavior also occurs via dating platforms, text messages and email.

Several legislators in both chambers 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-Irvine), Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley), Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) and Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) as coauthors.

Supported by the California Coalition of School Safety Professionals, California Police Chiefs Association, California State Sheriffs' Association, California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, Consumer Attorneys of California, The Internet Association, Leda Health, National Organization for Women, National Women’s Political Caucus of California, Police Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), Riverside Sheriffs' Association, Santa Ana Police Officers Association, Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, TechNet and The Purple Campaign, SB 53 now advances to the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee for consideration.

*According to a survey commissioned by Bumble between March 9 to March 11, 2022, conducted within the United States amongst a sample of approximately 1,000 adults.

(1) https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2017/07/11/online-harassment-2017/