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 Content Online Illegal in England?

Question from Nana, Is Viewing Extreme Content Online Illegal in England?

Answer from AI:

In England, the legality of viewing pornographic material online, including extreme content, is governed by several laws and regulations. It’s important to understand what is considered illegal to view and the circumstances that can lead to criminal liability.

Legal Framework Governing Extreme Pornographic Material

The primary legislation that deals with extreme pornographic material in England is the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, specifically Section 63. This law makes it an offence to possess extreme pornographic images that portray acts that threaten life, result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals, involve sexual interference with a human corpse, or depict a person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (dead or alive).

Understanding Possession and Viewing

According to the guidance provided by the Court of Appeal in Okoro [2018] EWCA Crim 1929, for an individual to be found guilty of possessing extreme pornographic images, two elements must be satisfied:

  1. The images must be in the suspect’s custody or control such that they were capable of being accessed.
  2. The suspect must have known that they possessed the images.

This means that simply stumbling upon an image accidentally, without the intent to possess or control it, may not meet the legal definition of possession. However, if an individual intentionally seeks out and views such material, knowing its nature, they could potentially be found to have had control over the images and thus be in possession of them.

Viewing on Public Websites

Viewing extreme pornographic material on a public website does not necessarily mean that the material is in your possession. However, if you intentionally download or save such material, it could be considered possession. The law is more concerned with the possession of such material rather than the mere viewing of it. However, viewing can lead to possession if the material is downloaded or saved.

Legal Advice and Further Steps

If you are concerned about your legal position regarding the viewing or possession of extreme pornographic material, it is strongly recommended that you seek personalized legal advice. A legal professional can provide guidance based on the specifics of your situation.

For more information on the laws surrounding extreme pornographic material, you can refer to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and the Crown Prosecution Service’s guidelines.


In summary, while viewing extreme pornographic material on a public website may not in itself constitute a criminal offence in England, downloading or saving such material could be considered possession and thus potentially illegal. It is important to be aware of the laws and regulations regarding such material and to consult with a legal professional if you have any doubts or concerns about your activities online.

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