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Revenge porn

More than 200 people have been prosecuted since a new revenge porn law came into force in England and Wales last year, according to a Crown Prosecution Service report on crimes against women.

The director of public prosecutions said the cases were part of a trend of crimes committed through social media. The use of the internet to control and threaten victims was rising, she said.

It became an offence to share private sexual photographs or films without the subject’s consent in England and Wales in April 2015, with a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment. So-called revenge porn often involves an ex-partner uploading sexual images of the victim to cause the victim humiliation or embarrassment.

The CPS report said 206 people were prosecuted for disclosing private sexual images in the first year of the offence. However, Freedom of Information responses to the BBC from 31 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales showed there had been 1,160 reported incidents of revenge pornography from April 2015 to December 2015.

The responses showed some victims were as young as 11, but 61% of reported offences resulted in no action being taken against the alleged perpetrator. Among the main reasons cited by police include a lack of evidence or the victim withdrawing support for any action.

Alison Saunders said: “There is a growing trend of crimes committed on or through social media. Since the new legislation came into force, there have been over 200 prosecutions for disclosing private sexual images without consent. We have also found that defendants in controlling or coercive cases rely on tactics such as GPS tracking and monitoring phone or email messages.

“The use of the internet, social media and other forms of technology to humiliate, control and threaten individuals is rising.”

Cases of revenge pornography taken to court include a defendant who sent intimate photos of a woman to members of her family via Facebook and threatened to post further pictures online. He was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to an offence of disclosing private sexual images without consent.

Another defendant posted intimate pictures of a woman, who was not aware the photographs had been taken, onto Facebook. He was sentenced to a 12 month community order, fined £110, ordered to pay court costs of £295 and given an indefinite restraining order.

However the number of prosecutions reflects a small proportion of complaints of revenge porn. More than 3,700 victims contacted a special helpline set up last year in its first 12 months.

Revenge porn became a specific offence in Scotland in April when the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act came into effect, and was made a crime in Northern Ireland in February through the amendment of an existing law.

Posted in Criminal JusticeComments (0)

Regulating cybersecurity

Recently the FBI called Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. The agency wanted Apple to help them hack an iPhone. Apple refused.

The request stepped up a level when a federal magistrate ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock a single iPhone. The phone belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the killers in the December mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Investigators have maintained that terrorists are hiding behind the safety of encryption to plan attacks, putting lives at risk.

Apple again refused. Read the full story

Posted in Case Law, Civil LibertiesComments (0)

Counter-extremism bill – part 1

Britain leads the world in the use of CCTV. As a result, surveillance has become an inescapable part of life. Britain has a larger DNA base and more police powers and email snooping than any comparable liberal democracy.

This was the very solid base for coalition home secretary Teresa May’s snooper’s charter bill three years ago which would have allowed GCHQ to conduct real-time surveillance of a person’s communications and their web usage. The intelligence services and police would have had powers to insist that internet and phone companies hand over our data without our knowledge. She stressed the need to move quickly.

Then plans were put on hold after being condemned by MPs of all parties. Nick Clegg, then Deputy Prime Minister, announced that the contentious measures would only be published in draft form and would be subject to widespread consultation, concessions that could delay the proposals for at least a year.

Now these proposals are very much back on the agenda. David Cameron and the home secretary, Theresa May, have defined extremism as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values”. It covers a range of activity not caught by the current law as terrorism, incitement to violence, stirring up hatred or abuse.

The counter-extremism bill, which is due to be published later this year, is aimed at “suppressing extremist activity.” It is far more wide-ranging than expected. The legislation will include not only the expected snooper’s charter, it will include proposals for banning orders to outlaw extremist organisations, extremist disruption orders to restrict the activities of individuals, and closure orders to shut down premises used by extremists.
It also moves to strengthen the security services’ warranted powers for the bulk interception of the content of communications. The extension of the bill to “modernise the law” on tracking communications data, was agreed within government only this month.

Last week, in the first live media interview ever given by a senior British intelligence official, the head of MI5, Andrew Parker, called for more up to date surveillance powers and said tech companies had an ethical responsibility to provide more help in monitoring the communications of suspected terrorists and paedophiles.
The investigatory powers legislation is expected to include powers to require internet and phone companies to collect and store for 12 months the browsing histories of customers along with detailed records of voice calls, messaging and text services.

It would require the companies, including those based abroad such as Google and Facebook, to give the police and security services access to this bulk data.

In a statement released by MI5 after his radio interview, Parker welcomed the prospect of new legislation governing surveillance, acknowledging that the existing law, introduced in 2000, was out of date.

He said: “Today we are being stretched by a growing threat from terrorism, and from Syria in particular, combined with the constant challenge of technological change.” He said the terrorist threat to the UK was rated severe, meaning an attack is likely, and that six alleged terrorist plots had been disrupted over the last year, the highest number he had seen in his 32 years at MI5.

“The way we work these days has changed as technology has advanced. Our success depends on us and our partner agencies having sufficient up-to-date capabilities, used within a clear framework of law against those who threaten this country,” he said.

Posted in Law UpdatesComments (0)

You cannot ignore the risks to your hosted data any longer

US District Judge Loretta Preska has told Microsoft that it must hand over customer information being stored in a data centre in Dublin to federal prosecutors. And she made it clear that her decision would stand wherever the data was stored overseas on the basis that ‘It’s a question of control, not a question of the location of the information’. In other words, customer emails and other account information held by Microsoft are business records that can be seized by the feds wherever they are. Read the full story

Posted in Civil Liberties, ilaw, Legal IT, Legal Practice ManagementComments (0)

Clare’s Law

During Committee stage of LASPO in the House of Lords, Baroness Gale moved an amendment to the bill which would insert a new clause providing for ‘disclosure of information about convictions etc. of violent abusers to members of the public’. It quickly became known as Clare’s Law, after the case of Clare Wood. Read the full story

Posted in Civil Liberties, Criminal JusticeComments (0)

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