Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), Member of the House Armed Services Committee, helped the House of Representatives pass H.R. 2052, the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Against Technological Exploitation (PRIVATE) Act – legislation she cosponsored in response to the March 2017 revelation that a private Facebook group titled “Marines United” was discovered with postings of nude, intimate photos of women, in addition to personal information, without their consent or knowledge.
“The behavior of those involved with the ‘Marines United’ scandal is intolerable, and I am pleased to work with my colleagues on this commonsense reform to protect the privacy of our brave servicemembers,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue to work in Congress to ensure that Members of our Armed Forces have the protections they deserve as they put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”
H.R. 2052 amends the Uniform Military Code of Justice (UCMJ) to insert a new article prohibiting the wrongful broadcast or distribution of intimate visual images and subject any person in violation to punishment by court-martial.
In March 2017 a private Facebook group titled “Marines United” was discovered with postings of nude, intimate photos of women, in addition to personal information, without their consent or knowledge. Naval Criminal Investigative Service found that this problem exists in all branches of the military.
The UCMJ currently provides two broad articles regarding unprofessional conduct that allows for prosecution of this behavior in military courts. The PRIVATE Act seeks to strengthen the UCMJ by clarifying the intent that makes these actions a crime and subjecting those guilty of wrongful distribution to punishment by court-martial. Further, this legislation protects those who would share evidence of wrongdoing with the appropriate law enforcement and media organizations.