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New Bill Targets Cyber-Flashing

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Sacramento, CA — There is a growing incidence of “cyber-flashing,” where individuals are harassed with explicit materials sent to victims, often by strangers.

Victims who receive unsolicited sexually graphic material by text, email, app, or other electronic means could sue the sender under a bill that California lawmakers sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk yesterday. According to a Pew Research Center report, last year on online harassment, the most common recipients are young women. The study found that 33% of women under 35 had been sexually harassed online, three times as often as men.

The measure will allow recipients to recover at least $1,500 up to $30,000 from senders of obscene material who are older than age 18. Victims can also recuperate punitive damages and attorney’s fees, and they could also seek court orders blocking such behavior in the future.

The bill was passed 76-0 in the Assembly on Thursday, and on Monday the Senate sent the bill to Newsom on a 37-0 roll call. There was no recorded opposition.