Insights Government announces “cyberflashing” to become an offence under new Online Safety Bill

The practice of “cyberflashing” typically involves offenders sending an unsolicited sexual image to people via social media or dating apps, or over data-sharing services, such as Bluetooth and Airdrop. In some instances, a preview of the photo can appear on a person’s device, meaning that even if the transfer is rejected, victims are forced into seeing the image.

The Government has now confirmed that laws banning this behaviour will be included in the Online Safety Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on 17 March 2022 (see here).

The new offence will ensure cyberflashing is captured clearly by the criminal law, giving the police and Crown Prosecution Service greater ability to bring more perpetrators to justice. It follows similar recent action to criminalise upskirting and breastfeeding voyeurism.

The change means that anyone who sends a photo or film of a person’s genitals for the purpose of their own sexual gratification or to cause the victim humiliation, alarm or distress may face up to two years in prison. It follows the Law Commission review, “Modernising Communications Offences”, which recommended that a new offence should be created. To read the Government’s announcement in full, click here.