Unsolicited naked pictures will be made illegal under new plans to amend the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Cyberflashing – sending unwarranted and unsolicited naked pictures – would become a crime under the plans, which will amend the Sexual Offences Act 2003 in what is a major win for many campaigners.
The government had originally planned placing the new law within the Online Safety Bill, which is currently making its way through the House of Commons, but will instead amend the 2003 bill over fears that the Online Safety Bill will not pass.
The Online Safety Bill is a controversial piece of legislation, which will include provisions to make watching porn illegal without age verification. This has met much criticism, fearing that it will cause more harm by pushing pornography into the shadows and having fewer protections for those in the industry.
It appears that this has prompted the decision to criminalise Cyberflashing through a different piece of legislation, in recognition of the serious effects it may have.
Once passed Cyberflashing will carry a punishment similar to those such as upskirting, which passed after significant campaigning from Gina Martin. Perpetrators of Cyberflashing could face up to two years in prison for the offence and being placed on the sex offenders register.
Justice minister Victoria Atkins said:
“We are carefully considering an offence along the lines of that proposed by the Law Commission.”
“My honourable friend the member for Brecon and Radnorshire asked whether the Online Safety Bill might be the vehicle through which that law was brought about.”
“We are actively looking at that, but we very much understand the need for speed and, indeed, the wish of women and girls around the country for the issue to be dealt with quickly and effectively.”
Young women are most frequently the victim of Cyberflashing, with research suggesting as many as 41% of millennial women have been a victim of Cyberflashing.