Sharing intimate images without consent outlawed in new crackdown on ‘revenge porn’


People who share intimate images without the consent of those depicted could face prison terms after calls from campaigners for a crackdown on so-called revenge porn.

Laws introduced today (Tuesday) will remove the need for the prosecution to prove that perpetrators intended to cause distress when they shared revenge porn images.

Amendments to the Online Safety Bill will make the sharing of intimate images without consent a base offence with a maximum penalty of six months in jail, the Ministry of Justice said.

Revenge porn was criminalised in 2015 but before now prosecutors had to prove that there was an intention to cause humiliation or distress.

TV personality Georgia Harrison, whose ex-partner Stephen Bear was jailed earlier this year for posting intimate footage of her on his OnlyFans account, was among those to call for a change to legislation. It followed a review by the Law Commission, which also recommended reforming measures protecting against intimate image abuse.

Ms Harrison said: “The reforms to the law that has been passed today are going to go down in history as a turning point for generations to come and will bring peace of mind to so many victims who have reached out to me whilst also giving future victims the justice they deserve.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who supported me throughout this campaign and it just goes to show how amazing our country is that the Government have reacted so quickly to push through these amendments.”

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said: “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.”

The legislative changes will also deliver on government plans announced last year to ban the sharing of "deepfake pornography" – explicit images or videos that have been digitally manipulated to look like someone else – without the consent of those depicted.

Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs said: “Intimate image abuse causes significant distress to victims and survivors and often exists as part of a wider pattern of abuse that continues offline.

“I am pleased to see these changes in the Online Safety Bill that will hold perpetrators to account for this insidious form of abuse and hope to see it pass soon.”

Ruth Davison, Refuge chief executive, welcomed the amendments amid “woefully low” conviction rates for intimate image abuse.

She said: “At Refuge, we know that conviction rates for intimate image abuse remain woefully low. The amendments to the Online Safety Bill announced today will make it easier to prosecute perpetrators of intimate image abuse, ensuring justice and better protections for survivors.”

The NSPCC, which has argued tougher measures should be added to the Bill to protect women and children from harmful behaviour online, said “more needs to be done”.

Rani Govender, senior child safety online policy officer at the charity, welcomed the move to bolster protection against intimate image abuse, but added: “More needs to be done if the Online Safety Bill is to tackle the creation and sharing of child sexual abuse material which takes place on industrial levels.

“The Government should act today by closing a loophole in the legislation that will let tech bosses off the hook if they fail to address the way their products contribute to child sexual abuse.”

What is revenge porn?

According to the Government, revenge porn is “the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress”. Revenge porn can have a damaging impact on your wellbeing, with a 2017 study published in Feminist Criminology listing PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and trust concerns as some of the potential impacts.

What should you do if you are a victim?

“There are a number of different options available,” says Andrew Lord, senior associate solicitor for survivors of abuse at Leigh Day. “Get professional legal advice first, you may be able to seek injunctions, and it is important to contact websites where things have been posted, once you have had legal advice.”

Should you contact the perpetrator?

Sometimes, says Lord, but “not always. Seek legal advice first about the best course of action, it is so case specific. A perpetrator may be incredibly hostile. One avenue you can go down is contacting the police if criminal legislation can be invoked. You will want to consider early on if speaking to the police is something you want to do.”

What can you do to protect yourself from any online abuse resulting from it?

If you are a victim of revenge porn, you may find yourself subjected to online abuse or harassment. Online abuse can be reported to social media companies and even to the police, and Refuge campaigners are demanding greater safety measures for women online. If you are a victim, it may be worth making your social media private for the time being.

What are your legal rights?

Revenge porn can come under multiple offences.

“It could be a misuse of private information, blackmail or harassment. You have the option to pursue a criminal complaint and a right to force takedown of information, but this is fact-sensitive, not every case will lead to all of these things,” says Lord.

Where should you go for help?

It may be a really distressing time, but “know that there are avenues for advice out there and seek out professional support right at the outset”, says Lord. “You are not alone in this… There is an emerging area of support for image-based abuse.”

If you are worried about the cost, “There are free services out there for advice and resources available to people, like the Revenge Porn Helpline,” Lord advises. Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, 0808 2000 247, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or you can visit to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat. For support with tech abuse visit

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