SB 53 Would Empower Survivors of ‘Cyberflashing’ in California
SACRAMENTO – After receiving strong bipartisan support in the Legislature, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation earlier today authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) to establish legal protections for technology users when they receive unsolicited sexually explicit images and videos, also 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 over 18 years of age who knows or reasonably should know that the lewd image transmitted is unsolicited.
“Cyberflashing is abusive and wrong so I am ecstatic that Governor Newsom signed SB 53 so we can empower survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for their offensive behavior,” Senator Leyva said. “No Californian should ever be sent a sexually explicit picture or video without their consent and, when that happens, it is critical that survivors have a legal path to pursue following this technology-based sexual harassment. I thank SB 53 sponsor Bumble for its continued work and leadership on this issue that affects far too many Californians—particularly young women—across our state. I am also grateful for the strong and enthusiastic support of my legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support of the FLASH Act.”
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.
“I am grateful to Senator Leyva and all of the bipartisan legislators who helped pass SB 53,” said Payton Iheme, Bumble’s Head of Public Policy for the Americas. “California now joins Virginia and Texas in protecting people from unwarranted and unwanted lewd images. This is just one more step in helping to make the internet safer for all.”
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.” This behavior also occurs via dating platforms, text messages and email.
During its legislative journey, legislators in both the Senate and Assembly 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 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, Consumer Attorneys of California, Feminist Majority Foundation, Internet Association, Leda Health, National Organization for Women, National Women’s Political Caucus of California, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, Students Against Sexual Assault, TechNet, and The Purple Campaign, SB 53 will take effect on January 1, 2023.
*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.