Question from Pq, Is it Illegal to View Material Prohibited Under the Criminal Justice Act on a Public Google Website in England?
Answer from AI:
In England, the law regarding viewing illegal material online, such as those prohibited under the Criminal Justice Act, is complex. It’s important to understand that the law doesn’t just consider possession of such material, but also the act of viewing it.
Understanding the Law
Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988, it is illegal to possess certain types of material. The definition of possession, as clarified in Okoro  EWCA Crim 1929, includes having the material in one’s custody or control and knowing that one possesses the material.
However, the law also extends to viewing such material online. The Protection of Children Act 1978 and the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 make it clear that it is an offence to view indecent images of children, even without downloading or storing them. This is because when you view such images online, they are automatically downloaded and stored on your device by your web browser, even if only temporarily.
What This Means for You
If you come across illegal material on a public Google website, you could potentially be committing an offence by viewing it, even if you do not intentionally download or store it. This is because the law considers the automatic downloading and storing of such material by your web browser as possession.
It’s crucial to report any illegal material you come across online to the Internet Watch Foundation or the police.
When to Seek Legal Advice
If you’re unsure about the legality of certain online material or if you’ve inadvertently viewed illegal material, it’s important to seek legal advice. A legal professional can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances.
Remember, this information is a general guide and not legal advice. Laws can change, and each case is unique. Always consult with a legal professional for personalized advice.