New law banning cyberflashing to be included in online security law | UK News

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Cyberflashing is to become a criminal offense in which those convicted face up to two years in prison.

The practice includes the Sending unsolicited sexual images to victims via social media, dating apps, or using data sharing services like Bluetooth and Airdrop. In some cases, a preview of the image will appear on the person’s device even if they decline the transfer request.

Almost half of the young women are believed to have been targeted. The number is even higher for teenagers.

A new prohibition law will be included the government’s online safety law.

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The change means that cyberflashing will carry the same maximum penalty as indecent exposure.

The bill will also give social media platforms, search engines and other websites or apps more legal responsibilities to crack down on a range of illegal and harmful content on their services.

Jeanette Forder, from Kent, was the victim of cyberflashing shortly after opening an Instagram account to promote her business.

More on the Online Safety Act

“I started getting messages going into the private mailbox associated with the account,” she said.

“I used to always check them, mainly because you never know it could be a customer.”

A man kept texting her and saying he would like to meet her. She replied that she was not interested.

“The next day another unwanted message came,” she said.

“I opened it and he had a really intimate photo. I felt really dirty because it was on my phone, in my private mailbox, and it was happening at my house.

“And it also really scared me because I know I don’t have my home address public or anything like that, but what if that person could track you.”

She welcomes a change in the law.

Prof Clare McGlynn urged the government to go further with the law
Image:
Prof Clare McGlynn urged the government to go further

“You have to be stronger in these things,” she said. “I’m old enough to know my own opinion and feel uncomfortable when it happens but to be able to deal with it, but if it happens to young girls too it’s really not good, so I think once they stop it can, it is better It will.”

Clare McGlynn, law professor at Durham University, is an expert on the legal regulation of image-based sexual abuse.

She said the proposed law change was “a very welcome first start” but urged the government to go further.

“The current proposal only covers offenses where you can show that the person sent the image for sexual gratification or to cause distress,” she said.

“Now that means there will be a big gap around men who send the pictures out for, for example, a little laugh or a joke among their friends to gain recognition.

“So what we need is a comprehensive, straightforward law that is much easier to follow.

“Cyberflashing is alarmingly widespread. Many of the studies seem to show that around half of all young women receive sexually explicit images without their consent, and the numbers are even higher for under-18s.”

Culture Minister Nadine Dorries said: “Technology has the power to bring people together and improve our lives, but it can also enable despicable behavior by those who want to abuse, hurt and harass it.

“The forthcoming online safety law will force tech companies to ban the use of their platforms for heinous acts of cyberflashing. We bring full weight to individuals who are committing this horrific behavior.”



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