UK prosecutors will now be able to convict perpetrators of revenge porn far more easily

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Jun 27, 2023 at 11:52 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Revenge porn is one of the most insidious crimes that exists within modern society. It’s a complete betrayal of trust and can be utterly traumatising for anyone who falls victim to it. Thankfully, it’s about to become that bit easier to convict the perpetrators.

According to Sky News, amendments will be made to the UK’s Online Safety Bill, meaning that prosecutors will no longer have to prove that the perpetrator intended to cause distress in order to secure a conviction. Why anyone would release revenge porn for any intent other than distress and harm is beyond me. But it also took the government eight years to make this amendment, so, I suppose anything is possible within a flawed legal system.

Now, if anyone shares intimate images or videos without consent from any of the other participants on screen, they will face a maximum prison sentence of six months.

These amendments should also address the current problems some people face with deepfake pornography being shared online. Deepfake porn—when someone digitally manipulates explicit images or videos so that they look like someone else—has become prolific online. Particularly now that AI is so easily accessible.

One of the most famous cases of revenge porn in the UK involved former Love Island contestant Georgia Harrison and her ex-partner and fellow reality TV star Stephen Bear. A two-year investigation took place after Harrison discovered that Bear had shared an explicit video of the two of them online.

After being found guilty of voyeurism, disclosing private images without consent, and breach of bail conditions, Bear, 33, was sentenced to 21 months in prison in March this year, as reported by the Essex police.

Speaking on the incident, Harrison stated: “It was a long process and I was feeling quite a lot of pressure, sometimes I would just think ‘Am I making the right decision?’ I pushed through that and with the support of the police and others I managed to carry on and make the right choices.”

The long-awaited amendments to the Online Safety Bill come after an extensive review by the Law Commission who, after going through the current legislation, recommended much more detailed measures regarding online safety in reference to revenge porn. It doesn’t take long to recognise that the current safeguards in place are far too lax.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk told news outlets: “We are cracking down on abusers who share or manipulate intimate photos in order to hound or humiliate women and girls. Our changes will give police and prosecutors the powers they need to bring these cowards to justice, safeguarding women and girls from such vile abuse.”

While the changes are vital, it’s frustrating that it’s taken the UK government so long to get the ball rolling. Victims should be able to access this kind of protection immediately, instead of having to wait for those in power to finally get their heads around a modern issue that’s been plaguing people for quite some time now.

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