Intimate Image Abuse

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 21 May 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Owen of Alderley Edge Baroness Owen of Alderley Edge Conservative

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent individuals soliciting a deepfake non-consensual image from jurisdictions where there are no laws against creating and sharing such images and receiving the image in the UK.

Photo of Lord Bellamy Lord Bellamy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Creating deepfake sexual images without consent is immoral and unacceptable in society. The Government has tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill that will criminalise those who create a sexual deepfake image without consent, and for the purposes of sexual gratification or to cause alarm, humiliation or distress. This builds on reforms introduced through the Online Safety Act which criminalised the sharing of, or threats to share, intimate images, including deepfakes, without consent.

Under sections 44 – 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007, an individual who does not themselves commit a crime, may still face charges if they encourage or assist someone else to do so. These provisions will apply to the new deepfakes offence in the Criminal Justice Bill.

The situation is, however, more complicated if one or other of the people involved are not in England and Wales and whether a crime has been committed will depend on the specific facts of each case. This is because the jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales for acts committed overseas is limited.

Section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which in relation to some sexual offences extends the jurisdiction of the criminal courts of England & Wales to acts done overseas in certain circumstances, will not apply to the new offence. This is in line with standard Government policy that statutory extra-territorial jurisdiction should only be applied to serious and indictable offences, not summary offences. However, through the Criminal Justice Bill, we are making the two more serious offences of sharing intimate images (namely (i) sharing an intimate image without consent for the purpose of sexual gratification and (ii) sharing an intimate image without consent and with intent to cause alarm, distress or humiliation) subject to section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act , so that courts in England and Wales will have jurisdiction over those offences when committed abroad in certain circumstances.

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