This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Is Viewing Extreme Adult Content Illegal in England?

Question from Sie, Is Viewing Extreme Adult Content Illegal in England?

Answer from AI:

In England, the legality of viewing adult content online can be complex and depends on the nature of the content. While possession of certain types of extreme adult content is clearly illegal, the question of whether merely viewing such content on a website constitutes a criminal offense can be less straightforward.

Understanding the Legal Framework

The primary legislation governing extreme adult content in England is the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, specifically Section 63, which criminalizes the possession of extreme pornographic images. According to the Act, an image is considered extreme if it is grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an obscene character, and it portrays in an explicit and realistic way certain acts.

Legal Definition of Possession

The legal definition of possession includes having custody or control of the images such that they can be accessed, and knowing that one possesses the images. This definition was clarified in a 2018 Court of Appeal case, which you referenced from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidance. However, the mere viewing of content on a website without deliberately downloading or saving it may not always meet this definition of possession.

Viewing vs. Possession

Viewing content online does not necessarily equate to possession. For instance, if extreme content is encountered accidentally and not deliberately downloaded or saved, it may not constitute possession. However, if someone intentionally seeks out and views extreme content, even if they do not download it, they could potentially be at risk of legal consequences if it can be proven that they had control over the images and knew what they were accessing.

When Viewing Could Be Illegal

  • If the content falls under the category of illegal material, such as child pornography or images depicting acts of violence that are illegal in themselves, then viewing such content could be considered illegal.
  • If the act of viewing involves the automatic downloading and temporary storage of images on a device, which could be considered possession.
  • If the viewer takes steps to circumvent age verification or other access controls to view the content.

Seeking Legal Advice

Given the complexities of the law and the potential for serious legal consequences, it is important for individuals to seek personalized legal advice if they are concerned about their online activities in relation to extreme content. A legal professional can provide guidance based on the specifics of the case and the current state of the law.


While the possession of extreme adult content is clearly illegal in England, the legality of merely viewing such content on a website is less clear and can depend on various factors. It is crucial to understand that engaging with extreme content online can carry significant risks, and individuals should exercise caution and seek legal advice if they are unsure about the legality of their actions.

For more information on the laws regarding extreme content, you can visit the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and the CPS guidance on extreme pornography.

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