The UK is set to introduce a ‘cyberflashing’ law that makes unsolicited dick pics a crime

The UK should make ‘cyberflashing’ a new criminal offence, explicitly targeting predators who send unsolicited sexual images online.

The government is set to announce the new offense on Sunday, under the UK’s Sexual Offenses Act 2003, a source with knowledge of the matter told Insider.

Campaigners have been advocating for years to make cyberflashing its own offence, which has been the case in Scotland for more than a decade.

Features like AirDrop, a way for one Apple user to share files via Bluetooth with another, have made it easier for people to send unwanted sexual images to strangers in public spaces.

It was a widely documented problem on public transport in the UK with women complaining of receiving unwanted dick photos during file transfers, but it is difficult to prosecute under existing indecent exposure laws.

Advocates remain concerned that the new offense still leaves loopholes for victims, if the definition of “cyberflashing” is limited to cases where it is proven that the offender was acting for his own sexual gratification or to cause distress to others. the victim.

“We have a clear choice,” said Clare McGlynn QC, a professor at Durham University in the UK and a cyberflashing expert, between “limited legislation because we are concerned about the over-criminalization of men who send pictures of penises without knowing if they have consent” and one that “prioritizes the rights of women and girls”.

One of the risks of a motivation-based law is that cyberflashing cases might be too difficult to prosecute due to a lack of evidence.

“We risk seeing women’s confidence in the criminal justice system decline even further,” McGlynn added.

It was initially thought that the government would add a specific cyberflashing offense under the next online security billa major legislative push to more aggressively monitor online content in the UK and target tech companies which the government says are not doing enough to block “harmful” content.

But observers expect the Cyberflashing Act to be separate, smaller legislation, and likely to meet little opposition in Britain’s Parliament.

British Transport Police recorded 66 reports of unsolicited photographs in 2019, up from three in 2016, according to data released in early 2020. Although this is a small figure, the UK Law Commission suggested that cyberflashing is an underreported phenomenon.

In the United States, 8% of adults said they had been victims of non-consensual sexual abuse based on images in a 2020 study of 3,044 American adults.