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Safer Internet Centre

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New Laws Proposed by Law Commission to Protect Victims of Online Abuse

Today, the law commission has proposed new laws to protect victims from harmful online behaviour.

They have specifically highlighted certain areas that they are proposing to tackle.

What is Included?

  • Reforms to the communications offences (the Malicious Communications Act 1988 (MCA 1988) and the Communications Act 2003 (CA 2003)), to criminalise behaviour where a communication would likely cause harm.This would cover emails, social media posts and WhatsApp messages, in addition to pile-on harassment (when a number of different individuals send harassing communications to a victim)

This has come in response to the way in which we communicate with others through the progression of the internet along with how harmful behaviour has risen in these instances. Today, the law aims to be clearer on what they will be looking to tackle when it comes to online abuse.

They have also highlighted:

  • Cyberflashing – the unsolicited sending of images or video recordings of one’s genitals – should be included as a sexual offence under section 66 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This would ensure that additional protections for victims across the whole of the UK are now available.

The work that the Revenge Porn Helpline has done through the years has worked towards bringing this new proposal forward. Having seen a significant rise in cases over the lockdown period, the helpline has helped so many victims of intimate image abuse. Now the path is clearer, they will look to bring more responsive action to those who engage in the harmful behaviour.

David Wright Director of UK Safer Internet Centre said

“I am very pleased to see proposals today from the Law Commission to criminalise the unsolicited sending of images or videos of one’s genitals as a sexual offence. It is a timely recognition of the potential for harm caused by this form of sexual harassment. Alongside the other proposals to tackle abuse online, these are important first steps to challenge a range of unacceptable behaviours and make the internet in the UK a safer place for everyone.”

What this means

UKSIC has always strived to make the internet a safer place for everyone and this new proposal shows a big step forward for tackling online abuse. Our helplines have shown support to victims through various worries and concerns and seeing new focus towards taking action means we’re working towards a better internet.