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13 February 2024

The CPS Updates Guidance on Cybercrime to Reflect the Online Safety Act

In our recent article, UK Online Safety Act – The New “Communication Offences”, we reported that a number of new “communication offences” became law on 31 January 2024.  These were introduced in Part 10 of the Online Safety Act 2023 (the “Act”).

As a consequence, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) published updated prosecution guidance on cybercrime.  The existing guidance had been in place since being published in September 2019.

The CPS has categorised these new offences as being “Cyber-Enabled Crimes” – those crimes which do not depend on computers (or networks) but those that have been “transformed in scale or form by the use of the internet and communications technology“.  It is notable that in the new guidance the CPS not only recognises crimes such cyber stalking, revenge-porn and the disclosure of private sexual messages, but also recognises that these are likely not only to specifically target women, but urges investigators to look at the wider context of the crimes, as they may be part of wider efforts by suspects to exert power or control over their victims.

The CPS will hope that the guidance now covers a near comprehensive list of illegal online harms and activities, and grants prosecuting authorities a far wider arsenal when seeking to tackle the growth in intimate deepfakes and online criminality.

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Mark Jones
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Henry Watkinson
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