'Downblousing’ and sharing of pornographic deepfakes to be illegal in England and Wales

Sharing “downblouse” images and pornographic “deepfakes” without consent will be made crimes Credit: PA

Sharing “downblouse” images and pornographic “deepfakes” without consent will be made crimes, with police and prosecutors given more powers to bring abusers to justice.

Those who share “deepfakes” – explicit images or videos which have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent- could be jailed under the proposed changes to the Online Safety Bill.

The Ministry of Justice will also bring forward laws to tackle the installation of equipment, such as hidden cameras, to take or record images of someone without their consent.

This will include “downblousing” – where photos are taken down a woman’s top.

'We want women and girls to have full confidence in the law' - Justice secretary Dominic Raab outlines the changes to the Online Safety Bill

Figures show around one in 14 adults in England and Wales have experienced a threat to share intimate images, with more than 28,000 reports of disclosing private sexual images without consent recorded by police between April 2015 and December 2021.

The Law Commission had called for the changes, saying criminal offences had not kept pace with technology and failed to protect all victims, while perpetrators evaded justice.

Labour welcomed the amendments but said there was "huge concerns" that existing offences were not "being properly dealt with".

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We must do more to protect women and girls, from people who take or manipulate intimate photos in order to hound or humiliate them.

Dominic Raab says those that use the internet to 'humiliate, intimidate and harass' women will 'feel full force of the law'

“Our changes will give police and prosecutors the powers they need to bring these cowards to justice and safeguard women and girls from such vile abuse.”

Professor Penney Lewis, of the Law Commission, said: “Taking or sharing intimate images of a person without their consent can inflict lasting damage.

“We are pleased that the government will take forward our recommendations to strengthen the law.

“A new set of offences will capture a wider range of abusive behaviours, ensuring that more perpetrators of these deeply harmful acts face prosecution.”

But Anneliese Dodds, shadow secretary for women and equalities that successive Tory government had failed to deliver on promises to protect women and girls from online abuse."We do need to see measures against online abuse of women and girls, but I have to say, we've heard so many promises from Conservative governments in this area and very little delivery," she said.

Labour's Anneliese Dodds said existing offences are not being properly dealt with under the Conservative'

"We don't see existing offences being properly dealt with under the Conservations; that's why Labour has set out measures to rapidly speed up the treatment of these offenses in the courts to make sure the policing support is there and to ensure perpetrators are properly dealt with,"

Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs welcomed these move.

“I am pleased to see this commitment in the Online Safety Bill and hope to see it continue its progression through Parliament at the earliest opportunity," she said.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said the Online Safety Bill, said: “With these latest additions to the Bill, our laws will go even further to shield women and children, who are disproportionately affected, from this horrendous abuse once and for all.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know