Pennsylvania could follow Texas to become the second US state to make cyber-flashing illegal.
Philadelphia County state representative Mary Isaacson told Infosecurity Magazine that she plans to introduce a bill to ban the unsolicited electronic transmission of sexually explicit and obscene images in the Keystone State at the end of October.
Isaacson sent a memorandum to all 203 members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on September 20, calling for them to co-sponsor her proposed legislation.
“Despite the success of the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment remains a serious problem in our society, particularly due to online forms of sexual harassment. 20% of women and 10% of men ages 18 to 29 report having been sexually harassed online,” wrote Isaacson in the memorandum, before calling on members to “please join me in combatting online sexual harassment and ensuring the dignity of all Pennsylvanians.”
Speaking to Infosecurity Magazine, Isaacson said that although she hadn’t personally received any unsolicited sexually explicit images, she had heard stories from her children about cyber-flashing experienced by their peers.
“I represent a lot of millennials, and I am a parent of two teens. I worry for my son and my daughter,” said Isaacson. “With Air Dropping technology, if a group of teens are at a concert, someone there can send them obscene images that the teens will see whether they have given permission or not. Their privacy is being invaded when they are just trying to have a good time.”
Asked what she thought drove people to become cyber-flashers, Isaacson said: “I think that it’s their psychology, that they do it to bully and intimidate people and invade their privacy. It’s a very serious societal problem that affects everyone, men as well as women.”
Isaacson’s proposed legislation follows the passage of House Bill 2789 into law in Texas on August 31 this year. Under the new law, the electronic transmission of sexually explicit material without the recipient’s consent became a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Describing how her bill will differ from what was passed in the Lone Star State, Isaacson said: “Right now, it’s modeled after what was done in Texas, but it could possibly change.”
Isaacson, who was on the road when speaking to Infosecurity Magazine, was unable to state exactly how many members had answered her co-sponsorship call. However, the state representative was able to confirm that her proposed legislation has secured bipartisan support.