“Downblousing” and pornographic deepfakes should be illegalized, government is told | UK News


Sharing “downblouse” images and nude photos or videos without consent should be considered a criminal offense, the Justices Commission has recommended.

It said the recommendations would bring intimate image abuse laws into the smartphone era, adding that a “patchwork” of crime has not kept up with technology, failing to protect victims while perpetrators evade justice.

The commission proposes the creation of a basic offense with a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment, covering all acts of intentionally taking or sharing a sexual, nude or intimate photograph or video without consent.

This would apply regardless of the perpetrator’s motivation, as the act is “sufficiently unlawful and harmful to justify criminalization”.

The commission also proposes tougher prison sentences of two to three years for other offenses where the image was taken or shared for sexual gratification, to cause humiliation, alarm or distress, or where the perpetrator threatened the victim.

This “tiered” approach is not intended to reflect the harm done to the victim, but the higher level of guilt when the perpetrator acts with a specific intent, the organization said.

Installing devices such as a hidden camera in an Airbnb property or a toilet to photograph or film someone without their consent would also be criminalised, with maximum penalties in line with the tiered proposals.

More on the Online Safety Act

The new offenses would apply to victims and perpetrators of all ages and would include nude or partially nude images of a sexual act or going to the toilet.

These include images of a woman’s top being lowered, known as downblousing, pornographic deepfakes, and images in which a person’s clothing has been digitally removed making them appear nude, in addition to existing offenses such as under the skirt and voyeurism.

But it would exclude cases where the circumstances and the nature of the behavior “are not morally wrong or harmful,” such as B. A proud family member sharing a nude or partially nude photo of a newborn on social media.

Lifetime anonymity for victims

All victims of the new crimes would be entitled to lifelong anonymity and to special measures in the event of a trial, such as B. the ability to testify behind a screen or pre-record evidence.

Professor Penney Lewis, Justice Commissioner for Criminal Justice, said: “Current laws on taking or sharing sexual or nude images of someone without their consent are inconsistent, based on a narrow set of motivations and do not go far enough to capture disruptive and abusive new behaviour that were born in the smartphone era.

“Our new government reforms will broaden the scope of criminal justice to ensure that perpetrators of these deeply harmful acts cannot escape prosecution and that victims are effectively protected.”

Emily Hunt, an activist and independent advisor to the Department of Justice (MoJ), said the reforms surrounding anonymity are “vital” as they would ensure better protections for victims and encourage more people to come forward and report crime.

A government spokesman said: “Nearly 1,000 perpetrators have been convicted since we banned ‘revenge porn’.

“With the Online Safety Bill, we will force internet companies to better protect people from a range of image-based abuses – including deepfakes.

“But we have asked the commission to look at whether the law could be further tightened to keep the public safe.

“We will carefully consider their recommendations and act on them in due course.”

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