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Sharing revenge porn in the UK now carries a two year jail sentence

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New law covers images shared online or in person

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Revenge porn has officially become a criminal offense in the UK, with those found guilty facing up to two years in jail. The amendment to the law was proposed last October and came into affect this week. It specifically targets "the distribution of a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress," and includes both physical and digital images, whether they're shared in person or over the internet.

The law covers "images that show the genitals but also anything that a reasonable person would consider to be sexual, so this could be a picture of someone who is engaged in sexual behavior or posing in a sexually provocative way."

"anything that a reasonable person would consider to be sexual."

Previously, individuals sharing revenge porn in the UK were prosecuted under different laws. In November, for example, a 21-year-old named Luke King was jailed for 12 weeks for harassment after sharing explicit photos of his former girlfriend via WhatsApp. In February this year, the UK also created a revenge porn helpline to offer victims support and help put them in touch with the police.

In the US, laws criminalizing revenge porn differ across the country, with sixteen states specifically targeting the practice. However, while the UK law seems aimed at individuals sharing pictures of people they know, the US has come down hard on those aggregating and distributing the explicit content. Earlier this month, Kevin Bollaert, the former operator of revenge porn site yougotposted.com, was sentenced to 18 years in prison — the largest conviction of its kind in the US.