Abusers, trolls, and predators online now face a fleet of tough new jailable offences from Wednesday 31 January, as offences for cyberflashing, sending death threats, and epilepsy-trolling are written into the statute book after the Online Safety Act
gained Royal Assent.
These new criminal offences will protect people from a wide range of abuse and harm online, including threatening messages, the non-consensual sharing of intimate images known as revenge porn, and sending fake
news that aims to cause non-trivial physical or psychological harm.
Dubbed Zach's law, a new offence will also mean online trolls that send or show flashing images electronically with the intention of causing harm to people with
epilepsy will be held accountable for their actions and face prison.
Following the campaigning of Love Island star Georgia Harrison, bitter ex-partners and other abusers who share, or threaten to share, intimate images on or
offline without the consent of those depicted will face jail time under new offences from today.
Those found guilty of the base offence of sharing an intimate image could be in prison for up to 6 months, or 2 years if it is proven
the perpetrator also intended to cause distress, alarm or humiliation, or shared the image to obtain sexual gratification.
Cyberflashing on dating apps, AirDrop and other platforms will also result in perpetrators facing up to two
years behind bars where it is done to gain sexual gratification, or to cause alarm, distress or humiliation.
Sending death threats or threatening serious harm online will also carry a jail sentence of up to five years under a new
threatening communications offence that will completely outlaw appalling threats made online that would be illegal if said in person.
A new false communications offence will bring internet trolls to justice by outlawing the
intentional sending of false information that could cause non-trivial psychological or physical harm to users online. This new offence will bolster the government's strong commitment to clamping down on dangerous disinformation and election interference
In the wake of sickening content, often targeted at children, that encourages users to self-harm, a new offence will mean the individuals that post content encouraging or assisting serious self-harm could face up to 5
years behind bars.
While much of the Online Safety Act's protections are intended to hold tech companies and social media platforms to account for the content hosted on their sites, these new offences will apply directly to the
individuals sending threatening or menacing messages and bring justice directly to them.
Some of the offences that commence from today will be further bolstered too, when the wide-ranging Criminal Justice Bill completes its
passage through Parliament.