FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Zoe Ades, Communications Director
COUNCILMEMBER PINTO INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO PROVIDE VICTIMS OF ONLINE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OPPORTUNITIES TO SEEK JUSTICE
Today, Councilmember Pinto introduced legislation to provide victims of “cyberflashing” the opportunity to seek justice. The “Forbid Lewd Activity and Sexual Harassment (“FLASH”) Act of 2023” establishes a private right of action against any adult who sends another adult an obscene image through electronic means without the recipient’s consent, also referred to as cyberflashing. All of the women on the Council are co-introducers on this legislation. The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Matthew Frumin, Janeese Lewis George, Vincent Gray, and Christina Henderson.
“As many of us know all too well, sexual harassment is a very real problem online, including on dating apps and social media platforms. It is time we treat cyberflashing — sending obscene pictures without consent — with the seriousness it deserves,” said Councilmember Pinto. “This is an important step towards ensuring online platforms are safe for all users, especially for those who we know are most likely to suffer this type of abuse — women and LGBTQQIA+ residents.”
A 2018 study by the dating and social networking app Bumble found that nearly one in three women have received unsolicited lewd photos from someone they had not met in person. By March of 2022, that figure had climbed to nearly half of women, with nearly one in three respondents specifically saying they had received a lewd photo in the last month. Bumble has been advocating for legislation to address cyberflashing across the country and has recently had success pushing for passage of similar legislation in Virginia and California in 2022 as well as Texas in 2019.
Under the FLASH Act, individuals who engage in cyberflashing risk penalties that include:
The legislation creates a private right of action for individuals who receive the image in the District and for individuals outside of the District who are sent an image from within the District.