Big Tech firms could face criminal sanctions if they don't police unsolicited dick pics

Big Tech firms could face criminal sanctions if they don't police unsolicited dick pics
The UK could make "cyber flashing" a criminal offence.Giorgia Misani/EyeEm/Getty
  • The UK has drafted up new laws intended to make tech platforms safer for users.
  • Lawmakers on Tuesday proposed changes to the draft law such as making sending unsolicited nudes an offense.

Tech platforms should be liable for users sending unsolicited nudes via their services, UK lawmakers said Tuesday.

A joint committee of politicians published their recommended changes to the UK's upcoming Online Safety Bill, a draft of which was first published in May. The bill is a broad attempt to regulate harmful behaviors online and scrutinize Big Tech companies.

The lawmakers suggested the UK government make "cyber flashing" — sending unsolicited images of genitalia — illegal and categorize it as a sexual offense. They noted that unwanted sexual images mostly impact women and girls online.

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Under their proposed legal structure, Big Tech platforms would carry some legal liability for cyber flashing, as they would "have the duty to mitigate and effectively manage the risk of harm to individuals from cyber flashing and remove unsolicited nude images from their platform quickly."

UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said in November that cyber flashing would be included in the scope of the bill, and that tech platforms would face criminal sanctions if they failed to adequately protect users from it.


The bill does not make it clear how quickly lawmakers would expect tech platforms to take action against cases of cyber flashing, or exactly how severe the criminal sanctions for failing to do so would be.

The Online Safety Bill is not yet law, and has to go through the British parliament. The BBC reports it is expected to reach parliament early next year.

Tech companies have some systems in place for dealing with cyber flashing. In February Twitter launched a plugin designed to filter out unsolicited nude images from users' private Twitter messages.