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Revenge porn will be criminal offence with two-year sentence

James Temperton
13 Oct 2014
Woman using a phone
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New legislation will make it a criminal offence to distribute sexually explicit images and video online or offline without consent

People who distribute revenge porn online or offline could face two years in jail under a new law aimed at cracking down on the growing trend. There has been increasing pressure to outlaw the practice of humiliating former lovers by posting sexually explicit pictures of them online.

An amendment to the criminal justice and courts bill currently going through parliament will tackle the offence for the first time and cover both online and offline distribution of images and videos. The changes mean it will soon be a criminal offence to distribute revenge porn on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as well as via email, text message and even physical copies.

"The fact that there are individuals who are cruelly distributing intimate pictures of their former partners without their consent is almost beyond belief," said justice secretary Chris Grayling. "We want those who fall victim to this type of disgusting behaviour to know that we are on their side and will do everything we can to bring offenders to justice."

Nearly all cases of revenge porn reported in the UK have targeted women, but existing laws make it difficult to secure a prosecution. Removing images and videos from websites, many of which are hosted outside the UK, has also proven problematic.

Minister for women and equalities Nicky Morgan said that people were "entitled to expect a reasonable level of respect and privacy" and hoped that tougher new laws would help stop the spread of revenge porn.

"It is right that those who do circulate these images are held to account, and that we educate young people to the hurt that can be caused by breaking this trust," she said.

The change to the law will cover photographs or videos which show people engaged in sexual activities or depicted in a sexual way, such as with their genitals exposed.

Anyone caught distributing so-called revenge porn could face two years in jail, while other laws such as the Communications Act 2003 and the Malicious Communications Act 1988 may also be used by prosecutors.

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