Will unsolicited dick pics become a thing of the past in the UK’s near future?
A new report from the Law Commission, a commission within the UK’s Parliament, has suggested making unsolicited nude photos shared online a punishable crime. The report refers to these unsolicited photos as “cyberflashing” and argues that they should be considered an offense under the Sexual Offenses Act, as the New York Post reports. Specifically, they say cyberflashing is hostile because of the intentional or negligent act of causing “alarm, distress, or humiliation,” to the recipient.
“Cyberflashing can cause serious harm. It is often experienced as a form of sexual harassment, involving coercive sexual intrusion by men into women’s everyday lives,” the legal review agency wrote.
According to the Independent, the commission also recommended other actions on digital privacy and safety. For instance, raising the threshold of “false communications” offenses to target people deliberately spreading medical theories that have been proven false. They also recommended a new law that would criminalize deliberately sending flashing images to people with epilepsy with the intention of triggering seizures.
Professor Penney Lewis, the organization’s criminal law commissioner, released a statement saying, “Online abuse can cause untold harm to those targeted and change is needed to ensure we are protecting victims from abuse such as cyberflashing and pile-on harassment.”
She added, “At the same time, our reforms would better protect freedom of expression by narrowing the reach of the criminal law so it only criminalises the most harmful behaviour.”
Caroline Dinenage, the digital and culture minister, said after the report was released, “We are putting new legal responsibilities on social media companies to protect the British public. But we have to be confident we can hold the individuals using these sites to threaten, abuse and spread hate accountable too.”
She continued, “I thank the Law Commission for its detailed recommendations which we will carefully consider as we update our laws for the digital age, protecting freedom of speech while making sure what is unacceptable offline is unacceptable online.”