The U.S. House of Representatives just took a strong stance against the nonconsensual sharing of intimate pictures.
On Wednesday, the House unanimously passed the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Against Technological Exploitation (PRIVATE) Act, which prohibits sharing nude photos without consent in all branches of the military. The bill was originally introduced last month by Republican Rep. Martha McSally in the wake of the Marines United scandal, the secret Facebook page where male Marines, Navy corpsmen, and British Royal Marines shared thousands of sexually explicit pictures of female service members without their consent or knowledge.
"The Neanderthals who committed these acts are not emblematic of the vast majority of decent and honorable service members who serve our nation," McSally said on the House floor on Tuesday. "However, the notion that any service member would think it is acceptable to upload, view, or comment on nude photos of their fellow service members is a serious problem that must be fixed."
In a letter McSally sent to fellow representatives, she explained the PRIVATE Act "defines when photo sharing is a crime" and "addresses questions related to freedom of speech and intent."
The purpose of the bill is to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice to "prohibit the wrongful broadcast or distribution of intimate visual images." If a person violates this provision, they would be subjected to punishment by court-martial.
Even though the code already had two articles addressing unprofessional conduct, some of the language could be interpreted as allowing service members to share intimate pictures with others if said photos were taken in a consensual environment. However, it didn't take into account whether the subject of the photos gave consent to them being shared with others.
Instead of moving on to the Senate for a vote, the PRIVATE Act will be incorporated in the 2018 draft of the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual federal military budget. Both the House and the Senate combine their respective drafts into one bill, before passing it and sending it to the desk of the president. The 2017 budget was signed into law by President Obama last December.