top of page


In 2023 a new criminal offence of cyberflashing – also known as sending unsolicited dick pics – was adopted in England & Wales following years of campaigning to raise awareness of this pernicious and pervasive form of online sexual harassment. 

In advocating for this law reform, I worked closely with the global dating app Bumble, actors and influencers such as Emily Atack and Amy Hart, politicians from all political parties and anti-violence organisations such as Refuge. My research – including my book with Kelly Johnson on cyberflashing - played a central role in the campaign, explaining the nature of the harms of cyberflashing, providing justifications for action and drafting legislative proposals. Having first raised concerns about cyberflashing in Parliament in 2017, the new law and first conviction are welcome progress but so much more needs to be done. 

Cyberflashing book


Clare McGlynn &  Kelly Johnson

This book is the first comprehensive account of the nature, harms and prevalence of cyberflashing. It identifies the gaps in the criminal laws of a range of countries and makes clear recommendations for reform.


Typically where a man sends a penis image to a woman without her consent. It’s also known as sending ‘unsolicited dick pics’.

News & Articles

Criminalising Cyberflashing

Cyberflashing is now a criminal offence because so many women started to speak out about the violating and intimidating nature of this abuse that is too often trivialised. Journalist Sophie Gallagher gave voice to the experiences of many survivors and my book with Kelly Johnson – the first comprehensive study of cyberflashing – argued for a new criminal law

I worked with the global dating app Bumble on a law reform campaign which brought together UN Women, Refuge, politicians and many women actors and influencers. In Parliament, I gave oral and written evidencenumber of times, explaining why a comprehensive cyberflashing law was required. You can watch this clip of me explaining to one of the Parliamentary committees the nature and harms of cyberflashing. In recommending reform, the Law Commission and Government drew extensively on our research and evidence.

The public debate about cyberflashing has been extensive and I hope has changed people’s perceptions. I’ve participated in some excellent video reports raising awareness, including from the Reuters Foundation and the BBC. It’s also been great to be part of a wide range of reports calling for cultural change and education such as in CosmopolitanGQThe IndependentDaily MailThe Times, Germany’s Der Standard, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and many more.

Next steps in tackling cyberflashing 


Social media companies

If we are going to reduce the prevalence of cyberflashing, we need social media companies and internet services to be more proactive in blocking, blurring and removing unwanted genital images. The Online Safety Act 2023 imposes obligations on internet companies, although the UK regulator Ofcom is not yet taking cyberflashing sufficiently seriously and is not yet requiring services to be proactive. I have called on Ofcom to take greater responsibility for tackling online violence against women and girls, particularly relating to cyberflashing here and deepfake porn in this news report, and you can read my detailed response to Ofcom’s consultation on how to deal with illegal harms here

Revised criminal law and active policing

The new criminal law is a welcome change, but it is not comprehensive, and so not all forms of cyberflashing are included. Rather than requiring proof of specific motives by the perpetrator - his intention to cause distress or gain sexual gratification - the law should be consent-based. It should be sufficient that the penis images were sent without consent, regardless of the offender’s motivations. That is the basis for the law on taking or sharing intimate images and it should be the same for cyberflashing. I explain the problems with the motive-based law in this comment in The Independent, in this briefing and in my academic research. We will also need to monitor police and prosecutors as they receive reports, ensuring they undertake proactive investigations and take women’s reports seriously.  

Cyberflashing in Northern Ireland

In April 2022, the Northern Ireland Assembly adopted new legislation which, for the first time, criminalises cyberflashing. This new law was introduced following my evidence to the Assembly’s Justice Committee which they described as ‘compelling’ and which drew on the research for my co-authored book. The Justice Committee adopted Professor McGlynn’s recommendation, with the Justice Minister agreeing to introduce a new law as part of a package of measures covering upskirting, downblousing and cyberflashing. 

Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims Act Northern Ireland 2022

My Research

cyberflashing book
Journal of criminal law
Journal of criminal law

Cyberflashing: Recognising Harms, Reforming Laws

Clare McGlynn & Kelly Johnson, 2021, Bristol University Press

Cyberflashing has been on the rise since the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, despite its prevalence and significant harms, cyberflashing is not a criminal offence in England and Wales. This crucial book provides new in-depth analysis, understanding and insight into the nature and harms of cyberflashing. The authors consider recently adopted laws in the US, Singapore and Scotland, and set out proposals to criminalise cyberflashing as a sexual offence in English law. This unique and timely study presents the first comprehensive examination of cyberflashing and the need to reform the criminal law.

Read policy briefing


Cyberflashing: Consent, Reform and the Criminal Law

Clare McGlynn, 2022, The Journal of Criminal Law 86(5), 336–352

In the context of growing calls for a new law criminalising cyberflashing – the digital distribution of penis images to another without consent – this article makes the case for a comprehensive, ‘consent-based’ criminal offence specifically targeting cyberflashing. It justifies this approach by examining the core wrongs of cyberflashing and suggests draft legislative text for such an offence. In making this case, the article analyses and rejects the Law Commission’s recent proposal for a ‘motive-based’ cyberflashing law. Ultimately, it is argued that while the English Law Commission's proposal is a welcome recognition of the harms of cyberflashing and need for reform, it does not go far enough to offer the redress victim-survivors are seeking, nor does it provide an appropriate normative foundation for education and preventative initiatives.


Read my policy briefing on why a consent-based law should be introduced.


Criminalising cyberflashing: options for law reform

Clare McGlynn & Kelly Johnson 2021, Journal of Criminal Law 85(3): 171-188

This article provides a valuable study of the laws on cyberflashing in the US, Singapore and Scotland. It examines the phenomenon of cyberflashing, outlining its prevalence, harms, and victim-survivors’ experiences, and makes recommendations for a new criminal law in England & Wales. 

bottom of page