New law prohibiting cyberflashing to be included in online security bill | Online abuse

Cyberflashing is to be made a criminal offence, with perpetrators facing up to two years in prison under the government’s plans to strengthen the upcoming online safety bill.

According to a study published in 2020, three-quarters of girls aged 12 to 18 have received unsolicited nude images from boys or men. A revised version of the Online Safety Bill is due to be released this week and will include a number of new offences. in addition to cyberflashing.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The upcoming Online Safety Bill will force tech companies to stop using their platforms to commit despicable acts of cyberflashing. We put all our weight behind the individuals who commit this horrible behavior. »

The move to criminalize cyberflashing in England and Wales follows recent action to criminalize upskirting, which is now a criminal offence, and a proposal this year to do the same for breastfeeding voyeurism. The two-year sentence would bring it in line with the maximum sentence for indecent assault.

“Cyberflash reports are alarmingly increasing. This offense will close loopholes in the existing law and ensure that cyberflash is treated as seriously as in-person flash, said Professor Penney Lewis, Criminal Law Commissioner at the Law Commission., an independent body that reviews the laws in England and Wales.

Other offenses in the bill are designed to punish digital “piling up”, sending threatening messages on social media and posting prank bomb threats. The offences, originally proposed by the Law Commission, are as follows: sending or posting a message conveying a threat of serious harm; send a communication with the intent to cause psychological harm or serious emotional distress; and deliberately send a false message with the intention of causing harm.

The Online Safety Bill will contain substantial changes from its draft when released this week. Along with the new criminal offences, it will require online platforms to protect users from fraudulent advertisements and order commercial porn sites to carry out age checks on people trying to access their content. Privacy campaigners have described the new age verification policy as a “privacy minefield” and warned it could establish the principle of age on the internet.

The bill will impose a duty of care on technology companies that host user-generated content, with particular attention to social media platforms. The duty of care covers several areas, including preventing the proliferation of illegal content and activities such as child sexual abuse and terrorist material, ensuring that children are not exposed to harmful or inappropriate content and protecting adults from legal but harmful content, such as cyberbullying.

Ofcom, the communications regulator, will oversee the legislation and have the power to fine companies that break the law up to 10% of global turnover.

About Marjorie C. Hudson

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