Laws around taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent to be reviewed

The Ministry of Justice has today announced that the Law Commission will undertake a review of the criminal law as it applies to taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent.

This follows a recommendation made in the Commission’s Abusive and Offensive Online Communications Scoping Report, published in November 2018. The Commission concluded that the criminal law’s response to online privacy abuses should be reviewed, considering in particular whether the criminal law can deal adequately with emerging technology such as “deepfake” pornography and the harmful behaviour it facilitates.

The project will consider legislation such as the “revenge pornography” provisions under section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, and if necessary, propose means of reform. This project is part of the second phase of the Abusive and Offensive Online Communications Project.

The Commission aims to publish a Consultation Paper, inviting views on any recommendations for reform, in 2020.

Prof David Ormerod QC, Criminal Law Commissioner, said:

“Taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent causes distress and can ruin lives.

“If the criminal laws are not up to scratch, we will propose reform that protects victims more effectively from this criminal behaviour.”

Further information

The Law Commission has two related projects:

  1. A review of the law relating to hate crime. See our webpage here.
  2. Reform of the communications offences (in section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003), including the glorification of violent crime online and the encouragement of self-harm online, as well as a review of the law relating to coordinated harassment by groups of people online. This project also forms part of Phase 2. For more information, see our webpage here.

We anticipate consultation papers on each of these projects will be published in Spring 2020.


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