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14th Mar 2022

Cyberflashing will become a criminal offence in UK

Perpetrators could face years in prison.

Cyberflashing is set to become a criminal offence in the UK and those found guilty could face up to two years in prison.

Cyberflashing is described as sending an unsolicited sexual image to a victim through social media, dating apps or using data sharing services like Bluetooth and Airdrop.

This new policy in the Uk means that cyberflashing will now carry the same maximum sentence as indecent exposure.

Research by professor of sociology Jessica Ringrose in 2020 found that 76% of girls aged 12-18 have been sent unsolicited nude images of boys or men.

YouGov research in 2018 found that nearly half of young women aged 18-34 have been sent unsolicited sexual images.

The law is part of the Government’s Online Safety Bill and aims to keep people safe on the internet amid new reforms being introduced.

When it comes to AirDrop, which is anonymous, they can be sent to anyone who has their settings set to “everyone” and can receive images from people outside of their contact list, with the sender staying unidentified.

A preview of the photo is still shown, with the victim seeing it regardless of if the transfer is rejected or not and this new bill will also work to tackle this from happening.

It will put more legal responsibility on social media platforms, search engines and other websites as a way of tackling a range of illegal and harmful content, including abusive emails, social media posts and WhatsApp messages, as well as ‘pile-on’ harassment.

Deputy UK Prime Minister Dominic Raab said: “It is why we’re keeping sexual and violent offenders behind bars for longer, giving domestic abuse victims more time to report assaults and boosting funding for support services to £185m per year.

“Making cyber flashing a specific crime is the latest step – sending a clear message to perpetrators that they will face jail time.”

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries added: “Tech has the power to bring people together and make our lives better, but it can also enable heinous behaviour from those who wish to abuse, harm and harass.

“The forthcoming Online Safety Bill will force tech companies to stop their platforms being used to commit vile acts of cyber flashing. We are bringing the full weight on individuals who perpetrate this awful behaviour.”