AP

California lawmakers OK lawsuits against ‘cyber flashers’

Aug 23, 2022, 12:58 PM | Updated: 1:22 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

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

1 day ago

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

2 days ago

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

5 days ago

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

6 days ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

6 days ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

California lawmakers OK lawsuits against ‘cyber flashers’