Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. Rep McSally Leads Bipartisan Initiative to Protect Service Members from Online Exploitation

April 6, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) today introduced legislation to protect troops from nonconsensual sharing of intimate media by other military members. The Protecting the Rights of IndiViduals Against Technological Exploitation, or PRIVATE, Act gives the military the tools to crack down on the perpetrators and prevent this behavior in the future by defining when private photo sharing is a military criminal act—which is not clear in current law— while protecting whistleblowers. U.S.  Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) and numerous other members of the House Armed Services Committee have cosponsored the legislation.

“Such degrading behavior from troops in uniform is disgusting, infuriating, and intolerable. Our service members enlisted to serve this country and protect it from our many enemies—they should not have to watch their backs among the individuals who are supposed to be their teammates. Sharing explicit photos of fellow service members undermines women, destroys trust and morale, decreases the effectiveness of our armed forces, and embarrasses America. United States troops must be warriors that embody courage, commitment, and honor— on and off duty,” said Rep. McSally.

On Saturday, March 4th it was discovered that individuals linked with the private Facebook group “Marines United” were posting nude, intimate photos of women as well as personal information, such as their names and duty stations, without their consent or knowledge. The next day, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service launched an investigation. Less than one week later, it was discovered that this was not an isolated activity— sharing intimate photos without consent is a problem that pervades all branches of the military.

“Nonconsensual pornography is not about sex, or fun, or boys will be boys. This is about Marines deliberately trying to degrade, humiliate, and threaten fellow Marines,” Congresswoman Speier said. “What makes these acts even more despicable is that many predators have gleefully acknowledged that the vast majority of their victims have no way to fight back. This bill will fix that appalling legal failure, and is an important step to ensuring that our brave service-members have legal recourse against foul online misogyny. I look forward to working with Congresswoman McSally to ensure that this gets included in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 and becomes law.”

“As the first female to fly in combat and lead a squadron, I have personally experienced, confronted, and overcome sexist behavior in the military. The military needs to clean this up. By strengthening and modernizing the UCMJ, this bill enables the military to hold perpetrators accountable for their inhumane behavior,” said Rep. McSally

View the legislative text of the bill HERE.

View the Hill’s coverage of the PRIVATE Act HERE.