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Schatz, Daines, McClellan, Moran Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation To Help Stop People From Sending Unwanted Nude Photos

Bill Would Establish Federal Private Right of Action for Individuals Who Receive Unsolicited Explicit Images, Impose Civil Penalties on Senders

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and U.S. Representatives Jennifer McClellan (D-Va.) and Nathaniel Moran (R-Texas) today introduced legislation to curb the sending of sexually explicit images online, also known as cyberflashing, by creating a federal private right of action for victims who receive such images and imposing civil penalties for individuals who send them. 

“No one should fall victim to unwanted flashing, whether in real-life or online,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “By providing a federal private right of action and imposing penalties, this bill will help prevent sexual harassment and hold perpetrators accountable.”

“Cyberflashing is never okay, and perpetrators must be held accountable for this disgusting act. I’m glad to introduce this bipartisan bill to allow victims of online sexual harassment an opportunity to seek justice,” said Senator Daines.

The practice of sending unsolicited explicit images has become prevalent within digital spaces, including text messages, direct messages on social media, and AirDrop. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 53 percent of women and 37 percent of men ages 18 to 29 have received unsolicited sexually explicit images. Recipients of images through geographically-based means like AirDrop can be left feeling especially vulnerable and fearful of their physical safety.

“The widespread use of social media and dating apps has laid way to online sexual harassment and cyberflashing. We are also seeing a concerning rise in the creation and transference of AI-generated, sexually explicit content that exploits children, celebrities, and everyday Americans,” said Representative McClellan. “When someone flashes you on the street, they get arrested, but when they flash you through your phone, nothing happens. Congress has struggled to keep up with the rapid evolution of technology and has failed to develop much-needed legislation to safeguard against these issues and protect online users. As a state legislator, I championed legislation to make cyberflashing illegal in Virginia. Now in Congress, I am continuing my leadership on this issue to protect online users nationwide. The CONSENT Act will address the privacy and safety concerns of online users and help ensure individuals have legal recourse in these devastating situations.”

“Our digital landscape has become a breeding ground for online sexual harassment and exploitation,” said Representative Moran. “The bipartisan CONSENT Act establishes vital safeguards to uphold privacy and security in the digital sphere by ensuring that victims of online harassment have the legal recourses they need.”

The Curbing Online Non-Consensual Sexually Explicit Nudity Transfers (CONSENT) Act creates a federal private right of action for individuals who receive sexually explicit images without their consent and imposes civil penalties for individuals who send those images. Similar legislation has been enacted in Texas, Virginia, and California, as well as the United Kingdom. Flashing in physical spaces is often considered a criminal offense.

The CONSENT Act is endorsed by Bumble, the National Organization of Women, National Women’s Political Caucus, National District Attorneys Association, and the YWCAs of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, and Kaua‘i.

“Cyberflashing is sexual harassment, stalking, and nonconsensual,” said Christian F. Nunes, National President of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “It is violence. Cyberflashing is not done in jest. It is meant to shock and unnerve an individual. Technology is dynamic, but the safeguards around these innovations must not be. NOW thanks Senator Schatz and his counterparts in the House, U.S. Representatives Jennifer McClellan and Nathaniel Moran for their leadership in bringing this legislation to fruition. We fully support this bill and urge every senator and U.S. representative to vote yes. The sooner this legislation becomes law, the safer those most vulnerable will be.” 

“Since Bumble was founded in 2014, we’ve worked to create a world where all relationships are healthy and equitable, and consent is a foundational part of our mission. Bumble has been at the forefront of cyberflashing laws for years, and in an age of AI, we need laws that protect unsolicited lewd content more than ever,” said Lidiane Jones, CEO of Bumble. “The CONSENT Act is a groundbreaking step in continuing that mission and builds upon the monumental passing of cyberflashing bills in Texas, California and Virginia. Thank you to Representatives McClellan and Moran and Senators Schatz and Daines for the incredible bipartisan work introducing this bill and championing this important conversation to make all digital spaces safer and kinder.”

“The CONSENT Act is just what we need to hold accountable those who abuse technology by sending unsolicited sexually explicit images and videos to individuals who have not requested them,” said Deidre Malone, President of the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC). “This legislation will take power away from the perpetrator and give power and relief to the victim of this heinous act. NWPC supports the CONSENT Act and asks members of Congress to vote for this critical piece of legislation. Thank you to Congresswoman McClellan, Congressman Moran, and Senators Schatz and Daines for this bi-partisan legislation.”

“The CONSENT Act represents a critical step forward in protecting individual dignity and privacy in the digital age. By empowering people to take legal action against unsolicited sexually explicit material, it reinforces the fundamental principle of consent,” said Nelson Bunn, Executive Director of the National District Attorneys Association. “This pivotal legislation serves as an essential tool to uphold law and order on the digital frontier, shielding citizens from invasive intrusions and promoting a safer online environment for everyone.”

The full text of the bill is available here.