Thinking about sending unsolicited nudes? It’ll be illegal in this state starting July 1.

Thinking about sending unsolicited nudes? It’ll be illegal in this state starting July 1.

USA News

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Thinking about sending nudes no one asked for? Think again.

The act will be illegal in Virginia starting July 1 after a recently passed law states any adult who sends an unsolicited “intimate image” electronically to another adult could be fined $500. The bill comes after a similar one passed in Texas in 2019.

According to the new law, an “intimate image” means a “photo, film, video, recording, digital picture or other visual reproduction of a person 18 years of age or older who is in a state of undress so as to expose the human male or female genitals.”

Cyber flashing: Sending unsolicited explicit pics is the tip of our toxic sexual culture

Bumble, a popular dating app that requires women to initiate conversations with matches, helped get the bill ready for the state Senate with the company’s head of public policy for the Americas, Payton Iheme, a spokesperson told USA TODAY.

In Virginia, the bill was introduced by Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and had been in the works for two years.

Last year, Virginia Beach Del. Kelly Fowler, a realtor, introduced a similar bill that would’ve carried criminal penalties. It passed the House of Representatives but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which McClellan serves on.

“Apparently, it’s quite a prevalent problem among realtors since their cellphone numbers are so readily available,” McClellan told USA TODAY. “I told her ‘If you bring it back next year, I’m interested in helping.'”

Bumble found out their work and reached out since the company worked on similar legislation in Texas.

McClellan has heard of people getting AirDropped lewd photos, or photos shared among nearby Apple devices.

“It’s pretty much anywhere your cellphone is publicly available or when you’re online,” she said.

The victims are not exclusively women, but women do make up the majority of the group, McClellan said.

Part of the problem is that while there were already laws prohibiting in-person exposure (i.e., flashing) and crimes against children, there wasn’t one for digital crimes involving adults, she said.

Getting the initial bill to pass with criminal penalties would’ve been a lot to do, said McClellan, so they opted for civil penalties instead. The Virginia chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus worked to get it passed.

In a 2018 survey, Bumble found that 1 in 3 women had received an unsolicited nude photo during their lifetime. In its most recent survey last month among 1,000 of its users, Bumble found that 46% of those surveyed within the U.S. received an unsolicited nude photo; 54% weren’t happy about it.

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Bumble users who send lewd photos will have their image blurred, a company spokesperson told USA TODAY. The app also has a security feature in place called “Private Detector.”

Users who receive nudes will see a blurred image and a warning that the photos may contain nudity. They have the option to decline the photo and block the user.

“If you are sending someone a photo that is suspected to contain lewd imagery, the Private Detector will remind you that sending such an image may lead to you being reported,” the company stated in an email to USA TODAY. “Consent is crucial. If you send an unsolicited lewd photo and are reported, you will be blocked from using the app.”

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