If you’re reading this then, congrats! You’re on the internet. If you’re here on Gurl.com, then you might identify as a girl. So, there is a good chance you are a female-identifying internet user. And, if that’s true, then you are probably already aware that being a girl on the internet can be really hard. You have to deal with guys who feel the need to message you gross things when you didn’t ask for them, misogynists who think they know everything, and gross tweets from our president who loves to bully women. But, luckily, things might be changing for you soon. There is a new bill named the Online Safety Modernization Act (OSMA) that aims to decrease online crimes that commonly use women as targets. These crimes include sextortion, which is when somebody obtains graphic photos (like nudes) and then threatens to release the images online.
— Katherine Clark (@RepKClark) June 27, 2017
This bill, which was introduced by congresswoman Katherine Clark, would make it possible for these predators to be charged with child pornography if the victim is underage. What does this mean for you? Well, basically it means that if you send someone a sexually explicit photo (as the youths say, “nudes), and that person then threatens to release that photo online, they can face legal penalties for doing so. I know! You’re shocked that this wasn’t a thing before, right? Well, that’s a conversation for another time.
In addition to addressing sexortion, the bill also aims to prohibit revenge porn (someone posting a video of you having sex) and doxxing, which is the act of posting private information about somebody online. This bill is essentially trying to protect you and your private information, as well as your body, from being put on the internet without your consent, which is really awesome.
The OSMA also aims to create a program that will train local and federal law enforcement how to deal with these online crimes, and what to do when they happen. Hopefully, this will help decrease the amount of online harassment and crime, particularly against women. Women and the LGBTQ community are much more likely to face online harassment than men. In a study conducted by the Center for Innovative Public Health Research, 53 percent of women experience harassing behaviors online. That can be anything from being called a “bitch” to being stalked online. If you’re a woman, you know that these things happen very frequently. You also probably know that no one seems to know how to deal with them, which can make the whole ordeal even worse.
I don’t know about you, but I have definitely experienced my fair share of harassment, and I think this bill is really important. A lot of bullies and predators use the internet in order to stay “anonymous” when harassing others, which makes the harassment so much worse, since you have no idea who is behind it and they can hide behind their screens. Hopefully, this act will help stop that from happening and keep us safe on the internet.
What do you think of this new bill? Tell us in the comments!