What’s the issue? Cyberflashing – also referred to as unsolicited dick pics – is not clearly a criminal offence in most countries, including across the UK and Ireland. It’s often not taken seriously, yet it’s the online version of physical flashing in the street and it’s a growing problem. Many women experience cyberflashing as intimidating and a sexual intrusion, often inducing real and paralysing fear. Urgent action is therefore needed to make clear that this conduct is harmful and serious, with criminalisation representing an important first step. This is the focus of my new book with Cyberflashing: recognising harms, reforming laws (with Kelly Johnson).
What should a cyberflashing criminal law look like? I recommend a straightforward, comprehensive cyberflashing criminal law based on consent. Read more in my two-page briefing on why a consent-based law is most appropriate and for a detailed analysis, see my article in the Journal of Criminal Law.
What’s the alternative? The English Law Commission propose an offence that is limited and only covers some cyberflashing cases. Read more in my blog in The Independent on why the latest Law Commission proposals do not go far enough and see my journal article.
Why cyberflashing should be in the Online Safety Bill: More in my written evidence to the Parliamentary committee reviewing the Online Safety Bill and my oral evidence where I recommended a new offence be included in this Bill. My policy briefing to MPs provides draft text for a comprehensive, consent-based cyberflashing offence.
Public debate on why cyberflashing harmful and what needs to be done: to read more about victim’s experiences of cyberflashing, see some of the new reports below to which I’ve been pleased to contribute, including this BBC report here on the everyday harassment of women experiencing cyberflashing: Cyber-flashing: ‘I get explicit messages every day’ – BBC News
See also these important reports highlighting women’s experiences including reports from the Reuters Foundation – ‘Gross and shocking’: Women call for new laws to stop cyber-flashing‘ – the Independent ‘The tip of the iceberg’: Cyber-flashing on trains ‘largely unreported’ despite huge rise in incidents‘ and Huffington Post: ‘Flashing And Flashing Can Be Equally Harmful.
You can watch this video from the Reuters Foundation and hear from those who have experienced cyberflashing and why we need action:
Cyberflashing – an issue across the world: I was pleased to share some of our insights into cyberflashing with colleagues at Sabanici University in Turkey, and particularly their Centre for Gender & Women’s Studies. You can watch the presentation on YouTube here