Virginia Lawmakers Look To Halt ‘Digital Flashing’

March 03, 2022
Virginia Lawmakers Look To Halt ‘Digital Flashing’
Lawmakers in Virginia said the problem is getting worse – for realtors who frequently have their phone numbers and pictures posted on for sale signs, and according to an executive for Bumble, it’s a problem on dating apps too.

Whether you realize it or not, what’s commonly referred to as “digital flashing” has been a problem for years.

That’s when someone sends you an unsolicited explicit photo.

“Got a pop-up notification on my phone that was a – no other way to put it – it was an explicit image,” a woman who wanted to remain anonymous told FOX 5 back in 2019. She said someone AirDropped her the lewd picture while she was taking the Metro to work.

“I at first started to look around to see who it could be and then just sort of froze and was like don’t,” the woman continued. “Like, don’t give them any satisfaction. Don’t look around.”

Lawmakers in Virginia said the problem is getting worse – for realtors who frequently have their phone numbers and pictures posted on for sale signs, and according to an executive for Bumble, it’s a problem on dating apps too.

“One in three of the users on Bumble said that they’d received one of these unsolicited lewd pics,” Bumble’s Payton Iheme explained at a press conference organized by Virginia lawmakers in January.

Complicating matters, one adult sending an unwanted lewd photo to another adult isn’t currently illegal in Virginia.

“If someone walked up to your door right now and flashed themselves, that’s a crime. But if they AirDrop a picture of themselves to you, it’s not. So we’ve really got to modernize our laws to keep up with technology,” said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, (D) Richmond.

She’s among a bipartisan group of lawmakers that’s put together a bill that would establish a civil penalty for digital flashing. If signed into law, victims would be entitled to “the greater of actual damages or $500, in addition to reasonable attorney fees and costs.”

“Quite frankly it’s because that’s where we could reach common ground,” McClellan told FOX 5 Wednesday. “I think everyone recognized there was a problem, but we could not settle on a solution to make it a crime.”

The bill has already passed the Commonwealth’s Senate and House. It now goes back to the Senate for the adoption of an amendment before heading to the governor’s desk.