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Moran, McClellan, Schatz, Daines Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral CONSENT Act to Protect Social Media and Dating App Users

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Nathaniel Moran (TX-01) and Jennifer McClellan (VA-04) and Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Curbing Online Non-consensual Sexually Explicit Nudity Transfers (CONSENT) Act to protect Americans from unsolicited lewd photos. 

Cyberflashing can include the transferral of sexually explicit images and videos without consent via social media, messaging apps, WiFi, Bluetooth, and even AirDrop. According to Pew Research, over half of women ages 18 to 29 have received an explicit image they never asked for. Overall, 32% of women and 30% of men have received unsolicited explicit images. This rise in cyberflashing has also impacted celebrities like Keke Palmer and Chrishell Stause

The rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) is further complicating the issue. The Stanford Internet Observatory and Thorn found that AI technologies exacerbate online sexual exploitation and contribute to the creation of child sexual abuse material (CSAM)

“Our digital landscape has become a breeding ground for online sexual harassment and exploitation,” said Congressman Nathaniel Moran. “The bipartisan CONSENT Act establishes vital safeguards to uphold privacy and security in the digital sphere by ensuring that victims of online harassment have the legal recourses they need.”

“The widespread use of social media and dating apps has laid way to online sexual harassment and cyberflashing. We are also seeing a concerning rise in the creation and transference of AI-generated, sexually explicit content that exploits children, celebrities, and everyday Americans,” said Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan. “When someone flashes you on the street, they get arrested, but when they flash you through your phone, nothing happens. Congress has struggled to keep up with the rapid evolution of technology and has failed to develop much-needed legislation to safeguard against these issues and protect online users. As a state legislator, I championed legislation to make cyberflashing illegal in Virginia. Now in Congress, I am continuing my leadership on this issue to protect online users nationwide. The CONSENT Act will address the privacy and safety concerns of online users and help ensure individuals have legal recourse in these devastating situations.” 

“No one should fall victim to unwanted flashing, whether in real-life or online,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “By providing a federal private right of action and imposing penalties, this bill will help prevent sexual harassment and hold perpetrators accountable.”

“Cyberflashing is never okay, and perpetrators must be held accountable for this disgusting act. I’m glad to introduce this bipartisan bill to allow victims of online sexual harassment an opportunity to seek justice,” said Senator Steve Daines

The bipartisan, bicameral CONSENT Act: 

  • Ensures a private right of action against individuals who knowingly send unsolicited, nonconsensual, sexually explicit visual images, whether they are unaltered or manipulated using machine learning or artificial intelligence. 
  • Provides that an individual may obtain either statutory damages (not more than $500) OR compensatory damages for emotional distress, reimbursement for reasonable attorney fees, and a temporary restraining order to cease receiving sexually explicit images from the sender. 
  • Safeguards the privacy of minors and allows a legal guardian to bring a civil action on their behalf and may elect to use the plaintiff’s initials in all further court proceedings.

The CONSENT Act is endorsed by the online dating app Bumble, National District Attorneys Association, National Organization of Women (NOW), Virginia NOW, and the National Political Women’s Caucus. 

“Since Bumble was founded in 2014, we’ve worked to create a world where all relationships are healthy and equitable, and consent is a foundational part of our mission. Bumble has been at the forefront of cyberflashing laws for years, and in an age of AI, we need laws that protect unsolicited lewd content more than ever,” said Lidiane Jones, CEO of Bumble. “The CONSENT Act is a groundbreaking step in continuing that mission and builds upon the monumental passing of cyberflashing bills in Texas, California and Virginia. Thank you to Representatives McClellan and Moran and Senators Schatz and Daines for the incredible bipartisan work introducing this bill and championing this important conversation to make all digital spaces safer and kinder.”

“Cyberflashing is a crime, full stop,” said Christian F. Nunes, National President of the National Organization for Women. “It is a shocking and distressing experience. By banning cyberflashing and the transfer of unsolicited AI-generated explicit photos, this legislation will empower victims, especially those most vulnerable, to feel and be safe. Thank you to Congresswoman McClellan and her Republican co-sponsor, Congressman Nathaniel Moran, and Senators Brian Schatz and Steve Daines for their leadership. NOW supports this bill and urges the U.S. House and Senate to vote in favor of this legislation. It is time to cover up the re-branded version of the trench coat flasher.” 

"The CONSENT Act is just what we need to hold accountable those who abuse technology by sending unsolicited sexually explicit images and videos to individuals who have not requested them," said Deidre Malone, President of the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC). “This legislation will take power away from the perpetrator and give power and relief to the victim of this heinous act. NWPC supports the CONSENT Act and asks members of Congress to vote for this critical piece of legislation. Thank you to Congresswoman McClellan, Congressman Moran, and Senator Schatz for this bipartisan legislation."

“The CONSENT Act represents a critical step forward in protecting individual dignity and privacy in the digital age. By empowering people to take legal action against unsolicited sexually explicit material, it reinforces the fundamental principle of consent,” said Nelson Bunn, Executive Director of the National District Attorneys Association. “This pivotal legislation serves as an essential tool to uphold law and order on the digital frontier, shielding citizens from invasive intrusions and promoting a safer online environment for everyone.” 

Read the CONSENT Act bill text here and one-pager here.