Cyberflashing – sending unwanted sexual photos – may soon become illegal in the United States. Bumble’s Payton Iheme, head of America’s public policies is pushing for a law that would penalize such actions, according to NY Times.
Bumble is a dating app in which a woman should take the first step. Payton Iheme is involved in public policy issues in both Americas. She came to this position after serving in US intelligence and advising the White House on science and technology.
According to Iheme, for many cyberflashing has become another cost of existing on the Internet. It is most often paid by women. Another digital security expert believes that cyberflashing is becoming part of an effort to push women and other marginalized groups out of the Internet and make them feel insecure.
Bumble’s Payton Iheme says that digital spaces are similar to public spaces, and similar rules must apply to their behavior. Those who are accustomed to spending time in childhood on the Internet are especially vulnerable. At the same time, technology companies should not use anti-cyberflashing legislation as an opportunity to avoid responsibility.
For example, Bumble combines political work with other methods. The application uses artificial intelligence, which detects and blurs obscene photos. Anyone who sends them without consent can be blocked.
The company is also working with US authorities to promote laws that protect against cyberflashing. Virginia has already passed a law that allows a victim of an obscene photo to receive $500 in damages.
According to the poll of Pew Research Center, about a third of women in the United States under the age of 35 have been harassed online. YouGov poll in Britain showed that 40% of millenials received unsolicited photographs of the male genitalia.
For girls aged 12 to 18, this share is even higher. Three-quarters of girls surveyed say they received obscene photos from men. Most called them unsolicited.