'Cyber flashing': Bill would penalize those who send unsolicited sexual images
MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- State lawmakers are working with a popular dating app to make it illegal to send unsolicited sexual pictures to someone.
The bipartisan bill introduced by State Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison) would fine people up to $500 if they send unwanted sexual images to others either by text or email. It's often referred to as "cyber flashing," which means sending a nude picture of a body part to someone who didn't ask for it.
The proposal received a public hearing last month, but it's unlikely it will get a vote on the floor as lawmakers are nearing an end to their two-year session. However, Agard said the bill is gaining momentum and could come up for a vote next year.
"[The bill] is about letting people know this is not OK," Agard said. "Also, if you are on the receiving end of it there's something you can do about it."
In the evolving digital age, more people are turning to online dating apps like Bumble. The company is working to pass legislation in multiple states and countries to hold their users and others accountable for sending unsolicited lewd images.
After surveying its users, Bumble said they found 1 in 3 women received a lude image and 96% of those said it was unwanted.
Under the Wisconsin bill, adults who send unsolicited obscene or sexually explicit images could face a $250 fine for the first offense, and $500 for additional offenses. A written warning would be issued to individuals under 18 years old for the first offense and would be penalized with a $250 fine for subsequent offenses.
Local law enforcement would be the ones to enforce the penalties, which Agard said is the same as filing a report if someone flashes you on the street.
Texas is currently the only state that's passed a law to make cyber flashing illegal.
"The biggest difference is if you flash someone on the street you face jail time and fines, but if you flash someone digitally that is not illegal in any state beside Texas," said Payton Iheme, the Public Policy Lead for Bumble.
Iheme said several states are embracing their idea in hopes to hold more people accountable for their actions.
"There are individuals doing this who just think they can get away with it and we need to shine a light on that to let people know people are watching," said Iheme. "There's some people who may think this is funny or not think it has actual harm and it does."