This is why we need to criminalize network processing

Cyberflashing – unsolicited photo or video submission by genitals – maybe soon a crime in England and Wales.

Surveys have found that Almost half of youth women Graphic images were sent, unsolicited by the men. Get the so-called dodgy pictures especially popular among women who use dating apps. In some famous cases, people even AirDropped images equal hundreds on public transport. In 2019, British Transport Police found 88% of them are targeted at women.

Cyberflashing has a clear resemblance to rude contact, which was a sex offense with a maximum sentence of two years in prison. But it’s unclear whether the law applies to digital forms of exposure.

campaigner, Parliamentarian and dating apps Buzz are all calling for the law to be changed to close this loophole. Politicians are currently discussing how online cleansing could be included in the upcoming Safe Online bill.

In particular, criminalizing this act as a sex offense would lead to a range of legitimate interests come victim, and can help police identify potential perpetrators of further sexual harm. Hopefully it can also prevent cybercriminals from “send” attacks.

Minimize harm

Legal recognition would provide those harmed by the operation of a cyber breach a means of redress. While some women try to “make fun of” an unwanted photo of their penis, it can be intimidating, distressing, or humiliating for others.

At its core, the non-consensual nature of this conduct makes it offensive and intrusive, as testimony stress. Likewise, a Kinsey Institute Research found that 70% of women who responded to a survey reported a negative reaction to an unwanted penis image, often feeling “rude” and “intrusive”.

Cyberflashing can also be considered harassment. For example, consider how a woman might feel when a man repeatedly texts – even though she ignores him – sending her pictures of an erect penis. This can be seen as confusing or even threatening.

The existence of legal sanctions would help signal that an online offense is morally wrong and should not be accepted by society as another unwarranted online behavior.

This scenario happened to a woman I spoke to in a research interview. She described the incident as “shocking” and she became “afraid of him”. Women can fear A man’s intrusive behavior will escalate to violence. This brings us to another argument for criminalization.

After it was revealed, former Met Police officer Wayne Couzens exposed himself several times before he raped and murdered Sarah Everard, fearing that indecent exposure would be a crime. gateway for other sex crimes has been elevated.

In Scotland, where cybercrime has been considered a sex crime for more than a decade, police have seen cases where offenders have been brought to justice for the following serious sex crimes. when put on their radar through a report a network breach.

One of the much-anticipated effects of the new anti-scanning law is that it will deter potential perpetrators by clearly signaling the behavior is criminal. As Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and chief executive officer of Bumble, put it: “If flashing isn’t on the way… don’t have it in your inbox.”

The existence of legal sanctions would help signal that a cyber breach is morally wrong and should not be accepted by society solely as another unprofitable online behavior.


In a welcome step, the Law Commission has encourage Amendment to Section 66 under the Sexual Offenses Act 2003 to ensure that cyber fraud is explicitly included in the vulgar contact laws. This recognizes the nature of the behavior and its effects.

Their proposal also retained the mental or “fault” element of the original offense: that of sending “an image or video of any person’s genitals” to the defendant. plan to cause warning, distress, or humiliation. Some concerns surround the proof of intent surface here.

The extent to which anti-breach laws act as an effective deterrent will depend on how much is enforceable. Some experts consulted during the drafting of this reform proposal argued that focusing on malicious motives would make unreasonably high burden of proof on prosecutors. With online scanning, it can be difficult or impossible to prove intent, as how often this behavior is normalized and trivialized, such as “false flirting”.

Fortunately, the Law Commission has to add another possible factor that could allow more cases to be tried and convicted. Defendants can be found guilty if it is proven that they have submitted an image (or video) of their genitals “for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification” and are “reckless” as to whether it caused sexual assault. report, suffering or humiliation or not. Proving a sexual motive will be an easier task for prosecutors. The addition of recklessness also sends a clear message: if you send an image and cause harm to someone, it’s not good enough to claim you didn’t mean it.

When the government pays attention Online Safety Bill, it is important now that legislation is passed to criminalize cyber breaches. We can no longer allow inclined people to expose themselves online – it is criminally wrong, and women have had enough.

Laura Thompson is a lecturer in criminology at the University of Hertfordshire. This article first appeared on Conversation. This is why we need to criminalize network processing


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