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UK unveils new laws to protect ‘revenge porn’ victims, including from deepfakes

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UK unveils new laws to protect ‘revenge porn’ victims, including from deepfakes
 

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice has unveiled a new amendment to the Online Safety Bill to protect victims from abuse of intimate images.

The proposed legislation introduces new criminal offenses for criminals who share intimate images of individuals without their consent, including those biometrically manipulated via deepfake technologies.

Data highlighted by the Ministry of Justice as an example of deepfakes that will be illegal suggests that a website that virtually strips women naked received 38 million visitors in the first eight months of 2021.

According to an announcement on the government website, the upcoming regulations will strengthen the law and deliver on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to outlaw ‘downblousing,’ the practice of capturing images of women’s cleavages without their consent.

Further, the Online Safety Bill amendment will include an additional series of laws referring to installing equipment, such as hidden cameras, to take or record images of someone without their consent.

In particular, a new base offense of sharing an intimate image without consent will be added, as well as two more severe offenses based on intent to cause humiliation, alarm, or distress and for obtaining sexual gratification. Two specific offenses will also be added for threatening to share and for installing equipment to enable images to be taken.

“I welcome these moves by the government which aim to make victims and survivors safer online, on the streets and in their own homes,” says Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs.

“I am pleased to see this commitment in the Online Safety Bill and hope to see it continue its progression through Parliament at the earliest opportunity.”

The announcement comes amidst reports that roughly 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales experienced a threat to share intimate images, according to police records for the period April 2015 to December 2021. In the same period, reports of disclosing private sexual images without consent reached more than 28,000.

“Through the Online Safety Bill, I am ensuring that tech firms will have to stop illegal content and protect children on their platforms, but we will also upgrade criminal law to prevent appalling offenses like cyber flashing,” comments DCMS Secretary of State Michelle Donelan.

“With these latest additions to the Bill, our laws will go even further to shield women and children, who are disproportionately affected, from this horrendous abuse once and for all.”

The proposed legislation comes roughly two months after the now-former Prime Minister, Liz Truss, suggested some ‘tweaks’ for the Online Safety Bill.

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