New law will make sharing pornographic, 'deepfakes' and 'downblousing' images without consent a crime

25 November 2022, 11:44 | Updated: 25 November 2022, 11:46

It will soon be illegal for abusers to share pornographic images without consent online
It will soon be illegal for abusers to share pornographic images without consent online. Picture: Getty
Fran Way

By Fran Way

A new law could make sharing pornographic images without consent a crime.

The law would also ban ‘deepfakes’ – where a person’s image is manipulated onto the body of someone else, and ‘downblousing’ – images taken down somebody’s top.

The Ministry of Justice will also bring forward laws to tackle the installation of equipment, like hidden cameras, to record or take pictures of somebody without their consent.

An amendment to the Online Safety Bill means that police and prosecutors will no longer need to prove that abusers ‘intended to cause distress’.

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Under current law, some men have admitted sharing women’s intimate images without permission but haven’t been taken to court because they didn’t mean any harm.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We must do more to protect women and girls from people who take or manipulate intimate photos in order to hound or humiliate them.

Cabinet Meeting in London
Cabinet Meeting in London. Picture: Getty

“Our changes will give police and prosecutors the powers they need to bring these cowards to justice and safeguard women and girls from such vile abuse.”

Figures show that around 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales have experienced somebody threatening them to share their pictures.

There were more than 28,000 reports of disclosing private sexual images without consent recorded by police between April 2015 and December 2021.

Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, said: "I welcome these moves by the government which aim to make victims and survivors safer online, on the streets and in their own homes.

"I am pleased to see this commitment in the Online Safety Bill and hope to see it continue its progression through Parliament at the earliest opportunity."

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: "Through the Online Safety Bill, I am ensuring that tech firms will have to stop illegal content and protect children on their platforms, but we will also upgrade criminal law to prevent appalling offences like cyberflashing.

"With these latest additions to the Bill, our laws will go even further to shield women and children, who are disproportionately affected, from this horrendous abuse once and for all."

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