Taking a cue from Texas, California could make sending unsolicited nude photos illegal

California Connection
Data pix.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Sometimes you can tell before you open it, but often it seems to come out of nowhere.

Some are calling it “cyber flashing” but you may know it by a different, crass name.

“It’s when someone send unsolicited nude photos to you,” Sharon Anderson said.

It happens on social media, in email, on dating apps and via text message.

“It’s still befuddling to me,” California Sen. Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, told FOX40.

Chang gave out her cell phone number while running for office. She knew she was opening herself up to things like calls at inconvenient times, angry rants, and over-zealous activists but not lewd photos.

“Never thought I would get pictures of that nature,” she said.

She received multiple naked pictures from men she’d never met and quickly learned she wasn’t alone.

“I started telling that story and a lot of women would say this has happened to them,” Chang said.

In fact, more than half of American women under 30 have had explicit images sent to them without their permission. It’s 26 percent for women over 30 according to a Pew Research Center survey from 2017.

“I thought, well definitely, we need to do something about it,” Chang said.

Chang said she came across some Texans who already had.

“We’re counting on our lawmakers to fill the gaps where tech companies fall short,” Whitney Herd, CEO of the dating app Bumble, said in support of what is now a Texas law banning people from sending unsolicited nude photos.

Chang wants to put a similar policy on California’s books.

The bill would make sending someone nude photos without their consent a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.

Constitutional Law Professor Leslie Jacobs says the “old-school, trench coat flasher” logic can remain in a digital space.

“To the extent, it’s like the physical flashing because you can say, ‘That’s speech too,’ you’re trying to send a message, really to the extent it’s the same thing, yes, the government can regulate it,” Jacobs said.

To hold up against freedom of speech challenges, the letter of the law must be specific.

“If it can be read to prohibit something that’s protected then the whole statute would be invalid,” Jacobs said. “The words have to be clear.”

Another challenge is the matter of enforcement. It would be up to the person receiving the picture to report it, and local law enforcement to investigate.


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