Texas Criminalizes Sending Unsolicited Nude Photos Starting Today

Texas has made sending unsolicited nude photos illegal with a new bill that went into effect on Sunday. Teaming up with the dating application Bumble to crack down on offenders who send sexually explicit pictures without the receiver's consent, the state has criminalized sharing such photos via digital platforms, including apps and messaging services.

State Representative Morgan Meyer formulated House Bill 2789 earlier this year in collaboration with the dating app. The new law went into effect on September 1.

The law forbids "technology enabled sexual harassment," making sending unwanted explicit imagery a Class C misdemeanor with a penalty of up to $500.

"Many people – especially women – get unwanted sexually explicit pictures by text or social media. It's disgusting," Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a Twitter post on August 23, "Now, it's illegal in Texas."

Many people—especially women—get unwanted sexually explicit pictures by text or social media.

It’s disgusting.

Now, it’s illegal in Texas. #txlege pic.twitter.com/Uga0QL4FbL

— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 23, 2019

"A person commits an offense if the person knowingly transmits by electronic means visual material that depicts any person engaging in sexual conduct or with the person's intimate parts exposed or covered genitals of a male person that are in a discernibly turgid state; and is not sent at the request of or with the express consent of the recipient," the bill states.

The law applies to text messages, email, dating apps and social media communications, KDFW Fox 4 News reported Friday.

Bumble's CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, approached Representative Meyer after the Texas-based company conducted a study that showed one in three women had received unsolicited sexual photos and that 96 percent of recipients were not pleased to receive the images.

"They had a number of people who were using the app complaining about the sending of these images and they quickly realized there was no recourse," Meyer told the local news station.

"We spend all our time in this digital world and it's basically a society with no rules. We're calling our peers — social networks, messaging apps, and Internet companies of all kinds — to raise their standards, and use their terms and conditions to stand firmly against digital indecent exposure," Herd said in an August interview with Refinery 29.

A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that women experience higher cases of sexual harassment online than men do, with approximately one in five women —aged 18 to 29, reporting being harassed, compared to less than one in ten men in the same age bracket. Over 53 percent of young women, between the ages of 18 to 29, said someone had sent them explicit images they did not request.

Other states with similar laws criminalizing online sexual harassment include Washington, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In collaboration with Bumble, Texas passed a new bill on Friday that made sending unsolicited nude photos a criminal offense. Charley Gallay / Getty Images for Bumble