AP

California lawmakers OK lawsuits against ‘cyber flashers’

Aug 23, 2022, 12:58 AM | Updated: 1:00 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California residents who receive unsolicited sexually graphic material by text, email, app or other electronic means could sue the sender under a bill that state lawmakers sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday.

The bill targets what’s known as “cyber flashing,” where victims receive such unwelcome surprises often from strangers.

“Just as individuals suffer sexual harassment and abuse in their physical, non-digital lives, there’s a growing incidence of individuals being harassed by receiving unsolicited, sexually explicit images and videos including from people they do not know,” said Democratic Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry when the Assembly approved the bill.

The Assembly passed the measure 76-0 on Thursday and the Senate sent the bill to Newsom on a 37-0 roll call Monday. There was no recorded opposition. Newsom is a Democrat and his office declined comment Tuesday on whether he will sign the bill into law.

The most common recipients of the unsolicited material are young women, Aguiar-Curry said. The Pew Research Center in a report last year on online harassment found that 33% of women under 35 had been sexually harassed online, three times as often as men.

In a 2017 report, the center said more than half of women age 18-29 had been sent unsolicited explicit images, as had 37% of men in the same age range.

The unsolicited material came in as well by various online dating apps and social media platforms, said Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva, who sought the measure. Sometimes the images were even transferred to devices via Apple’s AirDrop in public areas to unsuspecting recipients, Leyva said.

The bill would allow recipients to recover at least $1,500 and as much as $30,000 from senders of obscene material who are older than age 18 plus punitive damages and attorney’s fees. They could also seek court orders blocking such behavior in the future.

Supporters dropped an earlier version that would have made cyber flashing a crime punishable by a $750 fine for repeat offenders, after public defenders objected.

A Republican lawmaker who experienced cyber flashing herself initially sought a ban in 2019 at the behest of the dating app Bumble. The move then came after Texas made such acts misdemeanor crimes.

The cyber flashing bill is the latest in the California Legislature’s attempts to deter related harassment in the electronic age.

State lawmakers in 2013 outlawed “revenge porn,” making it a misdemeanor to publicly distribute what were intended to be private intimate photos. And the lawmakers in 2019 allowed lawsuits against those distributing “deepfakes,” or false depictions.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

6 hours ago

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

1 day ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

2 days ago

hunter biden...

Randall Chase and the Associated Press

Hunter Biden convicted of all 3 felony charges in federal gun trial

Hunter Biden has been convicted of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018, but no sentencing date was set.

2 days ago

Photo: A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real e...

Associated Press

Bremerton man sentenced for 20 ‘swatting’ calls of false threats in US, Canada

A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real emergency responses, has been sentenced.

3 days ago

Image: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, speaks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zele...

Associated Press

Ukraine uses US weapons to strike inside Russia, a Western official tells AP

Ukraine has used U.S weapons to strike inside Russia in recent days, according to a Western official familiar with the matter told the AP.

8 days ago

California lawmakers OK lawsuits against ‘cyber flashers’