clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

City Council committee launches crackdown on cyber flashing

“Imagine being on a train and getting a picture of someone’s genitals. Getting a picture of someone naked. Getting a picture you did not ask for,” said Ald. Ray Lopez (15th). “We see this more and more.”

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) (left) describes his crackdown on the crime he calls “cyber flashing” to the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety.
Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) (left) describes his crackdown on the crime he calls “cyber flashing” to the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety. At right is Ald. Samantha Nugent (39th).
Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

A City Council committee agreed Tuesday to crack down on “cyber flashing” — a lewd, lascivious problem tied to the growing addiction to cell phones and electronic devices.

“Imagine being on a train and getting a picture of someone’s genitals. Getting a picture of someone naked. Getting a picture you did not ask for … and can’t stop or preview — and not knowing where it came from,” Ald. Ray Lopez (15th).

“We see this more and more and particularly as our youth are becoming more addicted to their iPhones and their iPads. This is something that Chicago needs to address. New York and other areas have taken the lead. It is time for us to catch up with technology to ensure that, just as we would not accept public flashing in person, we will not accept it through technology, either.”

The ordinance, championed by Lopez and advanced by the Committee on Public Safety, would make “cyber-flashing” a crime punishable by a $500 fine and up to 90 days in prison or 1,500 hours of community service. And that’s just for the first offense. The fine for subsequent offenses would be $1,000.

Cyber-flashing is defined as sending an “intimate image” to someone using data-dropping technology “without the request or express consent” of the receiving party.

Intimate body parts were defined as the “genitals, pubic area or anus.” The term “intimate image” was defined as a “photograph, film, videotape, recording or any other reproduction of an image of an individual “with fully- or partially-exposed intimate body parts or engaged in sexual activity.”

That includes “masturbation, intercourse, sodomy, fondling or other erotic touching of intimate body parts,” the ordinance states.

Data-dropping technology “enables the transfer of files, including, but not limited to pictures, videos or texts, using wireless local area networking devices” to cell phone users in close proximity to the sender.

To prove his point about how blind-siding cyber-flashing can be, Lopez sent a picture to an unsuspecting alderman and a reporter who had no idea they had Air Drop enabled on their cell phones.

There was nothing lewd about the photo Lopez sent. It was a shot of the reporter and the alderman listening to Lopez describe his ordinance.