Franken Presses FBI on Sexually Explicit Posts

Calls on Agency to Protect Victims of Unauthorized Uploads

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, has called on the FBI to crack down on unauthorized online posting of sexually explicit images.

In a letter Friday (April 3) to FBI director James Comey, Franken, who has made online privacy protection a signature issue, said he "was deeply concerned" about images being posted without the consent of those depicted, and in some cases without their knowledge that the images had been captured at all.

He said that not only are the victims, mostly women, traumatized by the posting, but they are often harassed and stalked and even fired given that the images are often accompanies by personal information like names, addresses and phone numbers.

He gave a shout out to Twitter and Reddit for recent moves to make clear that nonconsensual posting explicit content is unacceptable.

But he said law enforcement has to step up with swift action and sensitive treatment of victims.

He asked for information on all legal authority available to investigate cases of nonconsensual disclosure of sexually explicit images and any statistics on how hacking and identify theft laws have been used to combat such conduct.

He also wants to know what limits there are in current law that could be preventing the FBI from investigations and arrests.

Franken wants an answer by May 8. "The digital age has brought many benefits for free speech, commercial activity, and the sharing of information, but new technologies can pose significant threats if bad actors are not held accountable..." he said.