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 Material Illegal in the UK?

Question from Is, Is Viewing Extreme Material Illegal in the UK?

Answer from AI:

In the United Kingdom, the legality of viewing extreme material on the internet is governed by several laws, with the primary one being the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Specifically, Section 63 of this Act makes it an offense to possess extreme pornographic material. However, the question of legality can be complex when it comes to merely viewing such material without deliberately downloading or saving it.

Understanding the Legal Framework

  • Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008: This Act defines extreme pornographic material as images that portray, in an explicit and realistic way, certain acts such as life-threatening acts, acts of violence, or acts involving sexual activity with animals or a corpse. The possession of such material is a criminal offense.
  • Coroners and Justice Act 2009: This Act includes provisions against the possession of prohibited images of children.
  • Obscene Publications Act 1959: This Act makes it an offense to publish an obscene article or to have an obscene article for publication for gain.

Viewing vs. Possession

The distinction between viewing and possession is significant in UK law. Possession requires that you have control over the material and that you know of its existence. In some cases, merely viewing content online without deliberately downloading or saving it may not constitute possession. However, if the material is automatically saved to a cache or download folder, it could potentially be considered possession.

When Viewing Becomes Illegal

Viewing extreme material could be considered illegal if:

  1. The act of viewing involves downloading or saving the material, even temporarily.
  2. The material falls under the categories outlined in the aforementioned Acts, such as images of child abuse or extreme pornography.
  3. The viewer is accessing the material through means that involve other offenses, such as hacking or bypassing paywalls.

Legal Advice and Further Action

If you are concerned about the legality of material you have come across on the internet, it is important to seek legal advice from a qualified professional. They can provide guidance based on the specifics of your situation. Additionally, if you stumble upon illegal material online, you should report it to the appropriate authorities, such as the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which works to remove child sexual abuse content from the internet.


While the act of merely viewing extreme material on a public website in the UK may not always be illegal, it can lead to legal issues if it involves possession or other related offenses. It is crucial to be aware of the laws and to consult with a legal professional for personalized advice. Remember that the internet is not a law-free zone, and accessing certain types of content can have serious legal consequences.

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