CHICAGO (CBS) -- A City Council committee has backed a plan to make "cyber-flashing" a crime, hitting violators with up to three months in jail for sending unsolicited nude or sexually explicit pictures to another person's cellphone or tablet.
The Public Safety Committee approved an ordinance sponsored by Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) to impose fines of $500 to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail, and up to 1,500 hours of community service for those caught using "data-dropping technology" to send intimate images to someone without their knowledge or consent.
The ordinance would define "intimate images" as pictures, video, or other reproductions of a person with fully or partially exposed intimate body parts, or engaged in sexual activity. "Intimate body parts" would be defined as the genitals, pubic area, or anus. Sexual activity would include masturbation, sexual intercourse, sodomy, fondling, or other erotic touching of intimate body parts.
To demonstrate how easy it is to abuse such technology, Lopez told the committee he could use his iPhone's AirDrop feature to send pictures to a reporter, two fellow aldermen, and a few other people who were in the same room at City Hall without them knowing it.
The AirDrop feature on Apple devices allows users to send files to other people's Apple devices without their express permission, if the receiver has their privacy setting on "Everyone."
"The picture that I took actually was of them, and I could send it to whoever has an iPhone, but 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 a preview, and not knowing where it came from," he said.
Lopez said cyber-flashing is a growing problem.
"We see this more and more, and it's particularly as our youth are becoming more addicted to their iPhones and their iPads. This is something that Chicago needs to address," he said. "It's time for us to catch up with technology to assure that, just as we would not accept public flashing in person, we will not accept it through technology, either."
The measure now goes to the full City Council for a vote next week.
Here's how to restrict Air Drop on your iPhone:
- Go to SETTINGS
- Select GENERAL
- Select AIR DROP
- Select RECEIVING OFF or CONTACTS ONLY
- Make sure EVERYONE is NOT CHECKED
for more features.