Californians Can Sue "Cyber Flashers"
Victims who receive unsolicited sexually graphic material by text, email, app or other electronic means will soon be able to sue the sender under a bill that California lawmakers sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
California's legislature unanimously passed a bill to curb what is known as “cyber flashing.” The bill will allow persons who receive such unsolicited sexually explicit material to recover at least $1,500 and as much as $30,000 from senders of obscene material who are older than 18 years old. It will also allow recipients to recover punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and could help them obtain orders to block future unwanted material.
Imagine sitting in your office and receiving an email – or sitting on the bus and having a photo shared directly to your cell phone – or using a dating app and seeing a message pop up – with unsolicited graphic material. Receiving such material is shocking, invasive, and a violation of personal safety. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. Victims are receiving unwelcome sexually explicit images at a rapidly growing rate.
In California, concern for this increase in sexual harassment is especially heightened. A 2019 joint study "Measuring #METOO in California: A Statewide Assessment of Sexual Harassment and Assault" by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, the Center for Gender Equity and Health, and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault found that incidences of sexual harassment are 5 percent higher for women and 10 percent higher for men in California than the national average. The study also found that Californians who identify as gay, lesbian, or born outside of the U.S. are at higher risk for being victims of sexual harassment or assault. More than 86 percent of women in California reported some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime. These numbers are staggering.
In an age where we are constantly on our phones, laptops, tablets, for every part of our lives, predators are taking advantage. They are sharing unsolicited sexually explicit photos with complete strangers in text messages, emails, dating apps, social media direct messaging, and even using Apple’s AirDrop feature.
Nobody – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or age - should have to experience this type of intrusion, and now, lawmakers have taken action to protect people from it.
This new law is just one way that a victim of sexual harassment may be able to seek compensation from their harassers. There may be other laws that apply and could provide further recourse. The best way to determine what legal action you can take as a victim in these situations is to speak to an experienced attorney. If you or a loved one have been subject to sexual harassment or assault of any kind, call our office at (619) 436-1990 for free case evaluation.