Revenge porn to be criminal offence with threat of two years in jail

New legislation will punish practice of sharing sexually explicit media on internet without consent, says justice secretary

Revenge pornography – sharing sexually explicit images of former partners without their consent – is to become a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison.

The legislation is to be introduced into the criminal justice and courts bill that is currently going through parliament, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has announced.

There has been mounting political pressure to outlaw the practice of humiliating former lovers by posting intimate pictures of them online.

Among those pressing for a change to the law has been the former culture secretary, Maria Miller. Others have argued that the problem is already covered by existing laws against obscenity or blackmail.

The new offence will cover the release of explicit images both online and in the form of printed pictures.

The justice secretary said: “The fact that there are individuals who are cruelly distributing intimate pictures of their former partners without their consent is almost beyond belief.

“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.

“That is why we will change the law and make it absolutely clear to those who act in this way that they could face prison.”

The minister for women and equalities, Nicky Morgan, added: “Circulating intimate photos of an individual without their consent is never acceptable. People are entitled to expect a reasonable level of respect and privacy.

“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.”

The new legislation will mean that images posted to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will be caught by the offence, as well as those that are shared via text message.

Images shared via email, on a website or the distribution of physical copies will also be caught, the MoJ said. Those convicted will face a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

The offence will apply to photographs or films that show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where “what is shown would not usually be seen in public”.

Other laws may still be used to prosecute the sending of sexual images such as the Communications Act 2003 or the Malicious Communications Act 1988.


Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'Revenge pornography' could soon be outlawed, says Chris Grayling

Justice secretary says government is open to debate on legality of uploading sexually explicit media on internet without consent

Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent

02, Jul, 2014 @7:52 AM

Article image
Revenge porn and 'cyber-flashing' laws go under review
Law Commission examines legislation on sharing of intimate images online

Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent

25, Jun, 2019 @11:01 PM

Article image
Revenge porn could lead to 14-year sentence, new guidelines clarify
CPS says serious cases of offence should be brought under Sexual Offences Act rather than obscenity laws

Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent

06, Oct, 2014 @11:09 PM

Article image
Non-payment of TV licence fee may be taken out of criminal law

Maria Miller prepared to suggest change in law to make non-payment a civil offence during talks regarding BBC charter

Ben Quinn

08, Mar, 2014 @2:09 AM

Article image
Porn wars: the debate that's dividing academia

With pornography accounting for huge volumes of internet traffic, it's a subject ripe for analysis. But a new journal, Porn Studies, is causing outrage among campaigners against hardcore porn, writes Carole Cadwalladr

Carole Cadwalladr

15, Jun, 2013 @11:05 PM

Article image
Maria Miller demands talks with big internet firms on web pornography
Google and Facebook among those invited to meeting on policing content in wake of Woolwich attack and Bridger verdict

Patrick Wintour, political editor

05, Jun, 2013 @10:32 PM

Article image
Porn sites in UK will have to check ages in planned update to online safety bill
Digital minister Chris Philp says it is too easy for children to access pornography online

Dan Milmo and Jim Waterson

08, Feb, 2022 @12:01 AM

Article image
The UK is clamping down on revenge porn with jail terms. Why can’t the US? | Annmarie Chiarini
Annmarie Chiarini: America’s lax response to this heinous crime means I and many other victims have nowhere to turn, and continue to be shamed by law enforcement officials

Annmarie Chiarini

14, Oct, 2014 @3:58 PM

Article image
UK's revenge porn helpline registers busiest year on record
Government-funded helpline received equivalent of nine reports a day so far this year

Alexandra Topping

16, Sep, 2020 @2:46 PM

Article image
Charlotte Laws' fight with Hunter Moore, the internet's revenge porn king

When Hunter Moore posted topless pictures of Charlotte Laws' daughter online, she decided to take him down. Carole Cadwalladr reports

Carole Cadwalladr

30, Mar, 2014 @2:14 PM