Online Safety Bill 2023 (New Criminal Offences) | Flashing Images


Section 183 of The Online Safety Bill 2023 (‘the Act’) creates two new offences committed by the sending or showing of flashing images with the intention of causing harm to a person with epilepsy.

‘Epilepsy’ describes a group of many different ‘epilepsies’ all having the common tendency to create seizures, i.e. sudden bursts of electrical activity, that start in the brain.

Mohammed Ahmed of KANGS explains these two new offences.

KANGS Solicitors has been defending clients charged with criminal conduct of every nature for over 25 years and is rated as one of the best criminal law firms in the country, being ‘Top Ranked’ by the leading legal directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers UK.

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The New Legislation | KANGS

The Offences

Section 183 of the Act creates the offences of sending or showing flashing images electronically.

Sending flashing images:

The offence is committed if an individual sends a communication by electronic means which consists of or includes flashing images, where one of two conditions is met, without a reasonable excuse.

The two conditions are:

  • at the time the communication is sent, it is reasonably foreseeable that an individual with epilepsy would be among the individuals who would view the communication, and the communication is sent with the intention that such an individual will suffer harm as a result.

This is intended to capture messages sent through social media.

  • when sending the communication, the sender either knows or suspects the proposed recipient to be an individual with epilepsy and who will, or might, view it and intends that individual to suffer harm as a result.

This is intended to capture the deliberate targeting of an individual by the sending of flashing images.

Showing Flashing Images:

The offence is committed when one individual shows another, by means of an electronic communications device, flashing images knowing or suspecting that that other is an individual with epilepsy with the intent to cause harm.


An electronic communications device

This is defined as equipment or a device that is capable of transmitting images by electronic means i.e., sending/publishing a communication to an individual or showing an image through or on an electronic device.

An electronic communication is considered sent either in its original form from the sender or through the sender forwarding the image online or providing a hyperlink through which to access the image.

Flashing images

These are images which carry a risk that an individual with photosensitive epilepsy who viewed them would suffer a seizure as a result.


This amounts to:

  • a seizure , or
  • alarm or distress.

Potential Defences | KANGS Serious Crime Defence Solicitors

Neither of the two offences can be committed by a healthcare professional acting in that capacity.

The offence of sending flashing images electronically cannot be committed by:

  • Recognised news publishers;
  • Those with licences under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 or 1996;
  • Holders of a multiplex licence;
  • Providers of on-demand programme services;
  • In connection with the showing to members of the public of a film that was made for cinema.

Penalties Upon Conviction | KANGS Criminal Courts Solicitors

A person convicted for either offence is liable:

  • before a Magistrates’ Court – to a fine, imprisonment for a term not exceeding the general limit in a Magistrates’ Court or both;
  • before a Crown Court – to a fine, imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.

How Can We Assist? | KANGS National Criminal Defence Solicitors

The elements which must be proven by a Prosecutor in order to secure a conviction include the carrying out of the prohibited act, intent and knowledge.

The Team at KANGS offers enormous experience gained from defending clients investigated for alleged criminal activity of every description and enjoys an enviable nationwide reputation for the quality of its services.

Should you be arrested, charged, or otherwise investigated for any criminal offence of any nature, then please do not hesitate to contact our Team, who would be delighted to assist you.

We welcome enquiries by:

Email: info@kangssolicitors.co.uk

Telephone: 0333 370 4333

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