U.K. to Ramp Up Extreme, Child Porn Prosecutions

U.K. to Ramp Up Extreme, Child Porn Prosecutions
Rhett Pardon
LONDON — The U.K. government announced this week it is beefing up prosecutorial efforts to indict individuals and companies that break obscenity laws or are involved in fraud schemes over the Internet.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has assembled 110 so-called “cyber lawyers” across the U.K. whose sole mission will be to tackle child pornography and adult sites that offer violent images and videos. The prosecutors also will focus on computer hacking and identity theft cases.

"The Internet offers massive commercial and personal opportunities but it also has a dark side,” Solicitor General Mike O'Brien said. “The Internet is worldwide so cross border co-operation between investigators and prosecutors is vital to combating Internet pornography.”

The announcement made at the British Library in London as part of the CPS “Hi-Tech Crime Strategy” put an emphasis on prosecuting those who sell child porn or extreme material over the Internet.

“We have strengthened our legal framework, giving courts the powers to pass longer sentences,” O’Brien said. “We now propose to make the possession of violent pornographic material a criminal offense.”

Home Office Minister Paul Goggins proposed in August to make all forms of violent or obscene pornography “acquired electronically” illegal in the U.K. The proposed law looks to fill what many in the country consider a loophole in efforts to combat extreme pornography. Though producing extreme adult websites has been illegal in Britain for years, viewing such sites has not — something Goggins hopes to change with his new proposals.

"The fact that it is available over the Internet should in no way legitimize it,” Goggins said in August. “These forms of violent and abusive pornography go far beyond what we allow to be shown in films or even sold in licensed sex shops in the U.K., so they should not be available online either."

Goggins’ proposal would amend the United Kingdom’s Obscene Publications Act of 1959, which covers all other forms of “obsessive” or “violent” pornographic content, but was enacted long before the Internet came into existence. Goggins said the law would not affect anyone who accidentally came into contact with illegal content, but only people who “download it and make active steps to access it.”

Goggins’ proposal currently is being studied by U.K. lawmakers.