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New law banning cyber flashing to be included in online security bill

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Cyberflashing will become a criminal offence, with culprits facing up to two years in prison.

The practice involves sending unsolicited sexual images to victims through social media, dating apps, or using data sharing services, including Bluetooth and Airdrop. In some cases, a preview of the image appears on the person’s device, even if they decline the transfer request.

Nearly half of young women are believed to have been attacked. Among adolescents, the figure is even higher.

A new law will be included to prohibit it in the government’s online safety bill.

The change will mean cyber flashing carries the same maximum sentence as indecent exposure.

The bill also wants to give social media platforms, search engines, and other websites or apps more legal responsibility for addressing a variety of illegal and harmful content on their services.

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

“I started getting messages that landed in the private mailbox that is linked to the account,” he said.

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

A man began to message her persistently, saying that he would like to meet her. She responded by saying that she was not interested.

“The next day there was another unsolicited message,” he said.

“I opened it and he had taken a very intimate photo of me. She made me feel very dirty because she was on my phone, in my private mailbox and it was happening at my house.

“And it also made me feel really scared because I know I don’t have my private address or anything public, but what if that person could track you down?”

She welcomes a change in the law.

“They need to be stronger on these things,” he said. “I’m old enough to know my own mind and feel uncomfortable when it happens but I can deal with it but it’s happening to girls too, that’s really not good so I think as soon as they can stop this the better.” . It will be.”

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

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

“The current proposal will only cover crimes where it can be proven that the person sent the image for sexual gratification or to cause distress,” he said.

“Now, what this means is that there will be a big gap between men who, for example, send the images to laugh a little, a joke between their friends, to gain praise.

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

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

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Technology has the power to bring people together and improve our lives, but it can also enable appalling behavior by those who wish to abuse, harm and harass.

“The upcoming online security bill will force tech companies to stop using their platforms to commit vile acts of cyber-flashing. We are laying the full weight on the people who perpetrate this horrible behavior.”

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