|Endorsed by: National Guard Association of the U.S., Women In International Security, Service Women’s Action Network
Current Cosponsors: Speier, Russell, Turner, Stefanik, Knight, Tsongas, Walter Jones, Gabbard, Bacon, Comstock, Hartzler, Shea-Porter, Walters, Rosen, Walorski, Lawrence, Frankel, Lipinski
Please join me by cosponsoring the Protecting the Rights of IndiViduals Against Technological Exploitation, or PRIVATE Act. This bill will protect our troops from nonconsensual sharing of private, intimate media by other military members.
It was recently discovered that individuals linked with the “Marines United” Facebook group were posting nude and other intimate photos of women as well as their personal information, like names and duty stations, without their consent or knowledge. Other military services told the House Armed Services Committee last week that they are now grappling with similar cancerous conduct within the ranks. As a 26-year combat veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I can tell you firsthand that this type of behavior destroys trust and respect within the military. It weakens our ability to respond as one force and undermines good order and discipline and esprit-de-corps.
This legislation increases protection for these heroes who are victimized by their teammates. If trying to prosecute in civilian courts, only 35 states and the District of Columbia have “revenge porn” laws meant to protect the private, intimate media from being shared against their wishes. Holding someone accountable using these laws is challenging for our military members, who may have to work across state lines in tracking down and holding perpetrators accountable. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) already provides two broad articles regarding unprofessional conduct that don’t exist in civilian courts that currently allows prosecution of this reprehensible behavior in military courts. This legislation will strengthen the UCMJ by clarifying the intent that makes these actions a crime, and allow commanders greater flexibility to clearly and efficiently discipline members of the military who participate in this shameful act.
The PRIVATE Act fixes this by creating a UCMJ article that defines an individual’s right to privacy when it comes to consensual sharing of intimate media. My bill will give the Department of Defense the necessary tools to prosecute members of the military who betray their fellow service members. This bill defines when photo sharing is a crime, which is not clear in current law, and addresses questions related to freedom of speech and intent. Further, it protects those who would share evidence of wrongdoing with the appropriate law enforcement and media organizations. Finally, it ensures a modern standard of expected behavior—one of respect and decorum—for our Armed Forces, regardless of where they are stationed or deployed.
I urge your support in my efforts to ensure our servicemembers are protected against the harmful effects of releasing private media. If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Falk at firstname.lastname@example.org, Cory Cilia email@example.com, or call 5-2542.
Member of Congress