back to article Extreme porn law goes live - are you ready?

Unless you happen to have been living on Mars for the last year or so, you probably know that this week (January 26 to be precise) it will become a criminal offence (in England and Wales) to possess pictures that the government deems to be "extreme porn". You might also be aware of two diametrically opposed views on this …


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  1. sammi

    This is bloody awesome

    Though I must say that there are encryption programs out there with 'plausable deniability' options; somebody very close to me uses a program, called 'Crypto Key', I think, that has an option to totally hide a partition within a partition, with two keys.

    Upon torture, you can give one key, which will unlock all but the hidden partition, leaving the hidden part resembling nothing but useless data.

    And for yourself, there's the second key, that unlocks all of it ;)

    There is always IronKey, or its eqiuvalent, with the 'self destruct' option if somebody attempts to hack the USB Key

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Change of habit?

    Surely it will mean that browsing with a Live CD and no permanant storage would become the norm? Beneficial whether potentially illegal to own or not, if you don't want the kids to find it.

    Alternatively sites may offer flash based viewers that store nothing and encrypt the stream.

    If the sites are legal in their location and some of the content is legal in the UK, how is anything to be proved?

  3. Sid

    A Howto for the seedy

    This is all very good advice, but wouldn't it be better just not to down load sick images from malware infested porn sites in the first place?

    Or perhaps get a girlfriend ~ or a life?

    Do people really get their kicks from a bunch of pixels?


  4. Mycho Silver badge

    Quite ironic really

    The big censorship law goes live on Chinese new year.

  5. Phil

    RIPA again

    On the subject of laws eventually being used for things other than those they were originally intended - the RIPA again - being used to find out whether a family was really in a school catchment area by a local council - and putting them under surveillance for two weeks.

    I think we can start to assume that laws such as these are used by those in authority to deal with behaviour that they find distasteful but that no-one would consider to be illegal.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back on planet earth...

    What an amazing load of rubbish this is! I enjoyed the sentence beginning "Despite recent Which-inspired hysteria..." given that the entire article seems designed to whip up mass-hysteria for no reason what ever. The law, as its framed, is very clear that it seeks to ban people from downloading material depicting extreme sexual violence. The police should know this; the CPS and the courts certainly will. This article seeks to herald the arrival of a McCarthy-esque witch hunt against those who want nothing more than straight forward titillation and sexual gratification from run-of-the-mill pornography that is available all over the internet. Headline grabbing it might be. Fact, it certainly isn't. Shares in companies concerned with hard disk encryption and file deletion could well rocket on the back of this kind of nonsense, but back on planet earth, I guess that 70% of the adult male population of the UK is safe.

  7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Proper backup procedures

    Some excellent advice at the end on identifying the data you really care about and keeping a backup off-site. It would be nice if everyone did this. Had the government cast the net a little wider and brought, say, all images of children under its remit (unless you could prove parental consent) then everyone would now be backing up their family photos and videos. At least then, *some* good would come of this Dangerous Dogging Act.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Can anyone remember what freedom was like?

    See, we don't actually own our property, it belongs to the government, as we are all tenants on their land. Anything we produce belongs to them. If our feudal masters command something, we must obey otherwise punishment awaits.

  9. Christoph Silver badge

    So the trick is...

    "but there are still lawyers - and exes - out there who might consider an allegation of looking at illegal porn a useful move as part of the separation end-game."

    So the trick is to find some extreme images, store them on hubby's computer in an obscure sub-sub-sub folder that he'll never look at, then start divorce proceedings.

  10. Dave Bell

    How many computers?

    If the Police have a warrant which allows them to take away every computer in a house, how many might that be?

    I caught one of the Royal Institution Lectures on TV over Christmas, and the UK average is somewhere over 100 per house, including Chip-and-PIN cards.

    So can sweeping demand for all your computer hardware ever be lawful, taking into account the HRA,, and will the Police have to be a bit more precise?

    Just what will a court decide is, and is not, a computer? And if the Police gather so much evidence that they don't have the resources to check it in a timely manner, what then?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every male MP has seen Bestiality Images

    1. The decision to introduce the law was taken in response to newspaper headlines after a tradgedy.

    2. The 'evidence' was created later.

    3. The 'evidence' was wrong, written by women with a known viewpoint. i.e. the 'study' was made by people chosen to back the previous decision.

    4. It is too broad.

    5. The Justice dept say it will be only applied in a few cases. This makes it worse, it means that they accept the law is too broad and will use it selectively to punish at their discretion.

    6. The 'grossly offensive' jury result is not true. Even if you do not get prosecuted, under the extended criminal background search this will be used against you.


    8. I bet every male MP has seen bestiality images. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. Why pretend that the male sexuality isn't driven by the sight of sex. Or that somehow we should be ashamed of this.

    9. If you're saying that viewing those images turns people into rapists then why is there more rape in censored countries and non censoring countries? How many MPs are now rapists as a result.

    IMHO, Jacqui Smith should be dismissed, if that is not possible, she should be unelected, when her sons break this law, I hope they are the first and the last to be prosecuted.

    She makes laws to fix headlines not problems, she's not fit to hold her job, and if Brown cannot sack her it means he's not fit to hold his job.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Thanks for this handy list

    Thanks for the advice. I do not reside in the UK, so hopefully I'll be safe for a little while longer, but then again I fully expect these same kind of laws will be adopted by my country in the not so distant future as well.

    Thanks also for the TrueCrypt link, I'll keep a copy of it just in case I need to go abroad. It's a good idea to keep any information you don't want a government agent to see secreted away.

  13. Kenny Swan

    Worst. Law. Ever

    How the hell is it fair for a jury or magistrate to determine what's offensive? Offensive to who? So, if the jury is full of over-sensitve morons, you can be convicted of owning images that are doing no one any harm? Offensiveness is subjective and can't be set in stone. If you're viewing these pictures on your own laptop and you don't show them to anyone, how can they be offensive if they're not offensive to person who owns them?

    Britain is going to hell in a handbasket. Come on Scotland, don't allow this crap too.

    Mine's the one with a ticket out of here in the pocket.

  14. Ray

    Be careful with Eraser

    I had a play with this last year. It seems there are various forks around, at least one of which (the one I tried) will merrily delete everything

  15. jon



    can I have the executive summary version please? :D or maybe some pagination?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    rodent with huge testicles

    When I moved to UK in 1992 from the x-Soviet Russia, I had no idea that I am moving into the new soviet UK... Soviet is probably too gentle for this – thought police springs to mind.

    In the good’ol USSR, the police would visit the flat of a suspected pornographer, invite the neighbours in (Soviet legal practice – “impartial” witnesses) and play them the tapes. – a video of a girl with bouncy breasts running on a beach will ensure screams “PORNOGRAPHY” from the pensioner neighbours, and would ensure the arrest of the “pornographer”

    - Though I do not enjoy destruction of breasts and anuses in a sexual manner, I do have some pictures of weird sexual crap in my “funny pics” folder. – can I claim that I do not keep them for sexual gratification, or, will “they” instead try to prove that I get off on a picture of a rodent with huge testicles, and all the other funny stuff?

  17. Anonymous Coward


    So funny, this article being so thorough. It's almost as if El Reg *knows* its readers love the porn. Thanks for the advice, Reg.

    So, what if I have the most vile, disgusting picture of a maiden being hung by her neck, spiked dildo ... (snipped for brevity) BUT she's smiling and winking at the camera?

    My coat's the one showing Rorschachs under the UV...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was unaware that a precondition of Reg readership

    was the possession of a few terabytes of bestial snuff

  19. Julian
    Thumb Down


    If there's a lawyer/council who will defend you, there's also one who will seek to crucify you, and that's before you are targeted by the police as a soft option.

    It would be nice if these and similar measures really dealt with the real ills of society without actually creating such a morass of inconvenience and risk to your average Joe Bloggs.

    The word of a politician, inter alia, is worth very little these days, which is a great problem in achieving a healthy society as a whole.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    What about:

    "yes your "honour", this is my pc, yes this is my hard drive, and NO the pictures of <insert whatever type of porn material you like> are not mine.

    When I say NOT mine, I had knowledge that 10,000 images existed in my C:\NORP DUMP, but, and this is important, I didn’t know what most of them were and this is why...

    I used a download manager (Getright) that can take a webpage address like "" and see what files are linked to it. Then it picks out all the image files larger than 10Kb and downloads them to the aforementioned folder.

    Rinse and repeat, and if you’re doing it on an industrial scale because there is fcuk all to do on a Sunday, you can set up a list of hundreds of website gallery addresses and leave your computer to macro its way through the list and produce a rather hefty down load list. Then it is "auto download" please... and a few hours later, you have a collection of "surprises" to look at.

    Hence, I do not know what pictures the computer is downloading until I actually open the folder and look at all 10,000 files... but obviously I never get past the first few hundred and cannot remember where I left off!

    There have been a few occasions where a few "OMG it’s got a pen15" pictures pop up! But I expect that is because the webmaster of the aforementioned website has not labelled the description of his link properly!! Or the picture hosting website has changed the images that the HTML page refers to! Or the government / police are conspiring against me because I’m a law abiding citizen who is sick to death of the erosion of common sense, privacy and civil liberties.

    Hence in this case your "honour", I cannot be held liable as I didn’t have knowledge of what the majority of those 10,000 pictures were and would not have done unless you showed all 10,000 to the court while I was present.

    So... I’ll be having your apologies now. Oh and my computer back.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One way around

    one way around springs to mind

    do all your "dodgy" surfing from a live cd

    if you are really paranoid do it from a machine with no hard drive

    once the machine is rebooted there will be no trace on the machine and anything viewed is certainly beyond recovery

  22. Henry Cobb

    Rule of law dudes

    Seriously, get a Constitution.

    When I first read 1984, Brave New World and Animal Farm I always thought it was Eastern Europe that inspired them.

    I should have known the writers wrote from personal experience.


    I am not a "Subject", I am a free man.

  23. Josh
    Thumb Up


    ...for keeping this story on your Radar, John. You've been one of the few writers online or off to keep this story in the public domain. I doubt most people in the wider population have any idea what the government are up to, but you and your colleagues at The Reg have maintained a close watch on these new laws (and others) and have always reported in a pretty impartial, but informative way. just wanted to record my thanks for your efforts - I know you come in for some criticism for dabbling in stories like this on The Reg, but I'm sure there are many who appreciate at least one rolling news site that has maintained a consistent interest on behalf of its readers. Long may it continue!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I'm prepared.

    Truecrypt volume set up with plausible deniability, pron copied to it and original files overwritten.

    Do your worst, you can never prove there are even other files there.

    For people who have done nothing yet, basic truecrypt guide:

  25. frymaster

    re: smash with a hammer

    more to the point, there's probably _more_ recoverable information if you do that than if you do a simple disk wipe...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's Go Fishing

    The likelihood of not being caught is likely to dramatically decrease if the Interception Modernisation Progranmme gets up & running. I can't help but think that it'll be running a nationwide dragnet 24 hours a day.

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Am I ready?

    find / -iname '*clown*bsm*' -exec rm {} \;


  29. Mathew White

    World of Warcraft

    Is world of warcraft (allong with sadlife) going to fall foul of this? A taurine deathknight and a human making /kiss and /love emotes with each other!

    Save our children from this ravaging by necrophilic bestiality!

  30. Martin Lyne

    IWF Approved


    These materials are rated EC-10 for emotional content and are subject to immediate incineration.

    Behold! The government unnecessarily stepping into our lives to save us form things we may want to do/re-legislating things that were already illegal.

    USIdent anyone?

  31. Erik Norgaard
    Paris Hilton

    How hard can it be?

    Just how hard can it be to define extreme porn? Extreme porn is that which depicts sexual acts prohibited by law. That is, if you can't do it, you can't see it.

    Of course, there is tons of stuff that you can't do that you nevertheless see in main stream films. It's the most trivial way of establishing a dramatic conflict, be it drugs or rape.

    Then it must be a question of whether this was produced for the erotic pleasure or as part of a dramatic presentation of reality - that is ordinary films. Not whether the viewer watches for personal erotic pleasure, which is much more difficult to determine.

    Anyway, where is the Paris Hilton clause in this law?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I just realised exactly why this law is so extremely silly. What's to stop people (especially the hardcore pervs they're aiming at) from keeping their "extreme porn" on a USB key or CD and only looking at it on a device without core storage, like a DVD player or Wii? USB keys are cheap, and could be easily concealed from even the most vigorous police search, especially microXD cards. If the cops are going to be looking at recovering deleted images from a hard disc, the only people likely to be convicted would be totally innocent. You'd have to be a raging idiot to think that the police won't try DAMN hard to convict you, even if you don't have the skills to recover that data yourself. Meanwhile, the ones actually breaking the law will go undetected.

  33. David Webb


    "But what if the worst happens? Plod has burst through your front door at two in the morning. All your PC equipment is now in a van on its way to the local police forensics unit, and you are sat sweating the wrong side of the interrogation room, trying to decide whether the copper offering you a cigarette is the good one or the bad one?"

    Obviously the bad one, he wants you to light a smoke so he can arrest you for smoking indoors, take your DNA and keep you for 42 days under anti-terror laws, cause all smokers are terrorists!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Survival Guide from a plod's view

    In the article you make a few comments about how to survive Plod showing too much of an interest in your doings. Written about a different source of trouble, this Survival Guide by a serving detective constable is well worth paying attention to:

    A serving uniformed inspector was drifting to similar conclusions in:

    And make sure you pay special attention to the THIRD bullet point in:

  35. elregwatch
    Thumb Down

    The Register or the Daily Mail

    I was surprised to see ElReg towing the Daily Mail line about the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act being an anti-terrorism law. For one thing it was passed in 2000 - before 9/11 and it was to deal with a technical way in which UK law had been held not comply with European Human Rights Law.

    Under UK law surveillance in public places has always been lawful by members of the public and by state emploiyees, but the European Court decided that for surveillance by state employees there should be an authorisation procedure. So RIPA has introduced a framework giving state employees permission to do things that anyone in the country could already authorise anyway.

  36. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


    "Since they appeared to have subscribed to sites promoting such imagery, the CPS then proceeded to bring charges of incitement to distribute indecent imagery. It is not unthinkable that similar charges could be brought against individuals who had no extreme porn on their hard drives, but who were active subscribers to websites featuring such stuff."

    So, someone steals your credit card details and subscribes to one of these sites. The Police get hold of your name and raid your house. Lo and behold they find no evidence of the offending material, but you get done anyway.

    What a fucking shithole this country is. It wont be long before British citizens are testing the imigration policies of more liberal governments such as China or North Korea. I hope these people burn in hell for all the evil they do.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Browser's "gift" mode

    Excuse me for this completely unrelated question, but I'd like to understand what happens to the pics/vids that I see in my browser's "gift" mode. You see, I take pleasure in browsing for presents for my wife on a daily basis and I wouldn't want her to bump into files that would spoil the surprise.

    So, do these files even touch the HD? If so, are they securely erased after use? If not, I'm wondering if I were better off with normal browsing mode and cleaning up after myself with well-known secure tools...

    (As for repeat presents, I keep those files under TrueCrypt. It's true that I often forget the password of the hidden volume, which is most inconvenient, but I'm confident no matter how low the NuStasi will fall, they will never manage to convict anyone for being amnesiac.)

  38. SteveMD

    Even this guidence is wrong.

    Any image which depicts an act the may result in serious injury is part of the definitions. by may they explain, any reasonable person would think that the act would cause serious injury. So no actual need to depict the injury, fictionally or otherwise, just actions that may result in serious injury to the breasts, genitals or anus. An even broader definition than this article suggests.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Nineteen eighty four?

    ... Nuff said.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sexual Offences Register

    Not likely to end up on the sexual offences register?

    I would have thought the opposite were true, particularly so when one considers the guy that was having sex with his bicycle in a locked hotel room!

    If the Police can justify placing the person on the register for the offence of sex with a bicycle, then it seems to me more likely they can justify placing the person on the register for looking at 'extreme' porn.

  41. kenzie
    Black Helicopters


    Of course this whole thing is nonsense, but one of the scariest parts of this is the fact that the court may be prying into your personal reasons for looking at 'offensive material' is quite horrendous.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Backups, eh? We'd like a look at them too, please...

    "Best advice, always, is for small businesses to keep vital data backed up at an entirely separate location. That works if your premises catch fire. It also works - or should work - if your home office is raided and your PC removed. It might be that you have to borrow or buy new PCs until your case gets to court. But so long as you have continuing access to key data, you should survive."

    Right. And I'm sure that the Police will not, the moment they find out that you've got backups sited elsewhere, immediately go and get a warrant to enable them to confiscate those too. I'm sure no copper anywhere will think to themselves 'Well, he may have deleted "beyond use" the files on the PC(s) here, but maybe they're still on those offsite backups he was planning on using to keep his business going ...'

  43. Mycho Silver badge

    @Just don't download it

    If you have moved to this country and brought copies of, say, Clint Eastwood's detective films with you, then you are in violation of this law unless you destroy them today (Sunday)

    The law is too broad. Depiction of nudity and violence using human actors.

    As for people calling things sick, sadism comes from the urge to comfort those in pain. Sure it requires suspension of disbelief, so does all recreational sex. Unless you're trying to make babies you're suspending disbelief when you fuck..

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've never seen this point addressed:

    "Throughout its passage, and in guidance since, the Ministry of Justice has claimed absolutely that this law would not pick up any material not already covered by the Obscene Publications Act."

    I've never seen anyone address the following point: If all such material is already covered by the OPA, why is the new law needed?

  45. Will

    @change of habit

    Nice point, I assume there's already some rules around this, but if your storing your data off site. Who "possesses" the material? It's going to start getting fiddly when you introduce remote storage, as you then have to tie a person with an account, with the plausible case it was not breached, with the argument that the material on servers they don't own is possessed by them.

  46. SteveMD

    Clearly wrong

    Again we see some comments from those who don't understand the law or simply don't know the wording of it.

    Saying it should be illegal to own images of acts that are illegal to do is silly. A large proportion of mainstream entertainment depicts illegal acts. If this law were about banning the ownership of images of actual abuse, then few would object, but it is not. The law specifically bans the owning of fictional images of abuse, including images from films which have been given a certificate by the BBFC.

    The law, as it stands, will prosecute, convict, lock up an individual for upto three years and place them on the sex offenders register, with all the stigma that carries, simply for looking, in private, at images of consenting adults taking part in perfectly legal activities.

    Indeed, one of the defences allowed is that if you can prove you are one of the participants in the images. Thus admitting the ridiculous state of affairs that you can do it, you can go and watch others doing it live, but if you take a photo of them doing it or simply look at a photo of them doing it, even with no intention of showing that photo to anyone else, suddenly you are a menace to society and should be locked up.

    Furthermore, there is no chance that anyone in a position of authority or anyone related to them and whose prosecution may embarrass the govt. would suffer such indignity. The govt. has decided they will have the final say on who gets prosecuted and who does not..

  47. Anonymous Coward

    They're flogging a dead horse!

    I didn't fight in two world wars to have my rights to sexual gratification removed, by pen-pushing bureaucrats, trying to turn me into a thought-criminal!

    Whatever happened to consenting adults in private?

    And anyway the lassie, was over 18. In dog years.

    Will we still be allowed to watch Carry-On films? Even Carry On Camping, where B. Windsors knockers pop out?

    Double-plus good!

    Another shot of Victory gin with bromide for me. I feel, a growing sexual fixation on a co-worker

  48. Paul Landon


    "the copper offering you a cigarette"

    OMG! Isn't that criminal nowadays?

  49. Graham Marsden

    @ Various

    Firstly, thanks to John Oz for keeping this issue in the public eye and pointing out that conviction is by no means a foregone conclusion, and also that, even were a conviction to succeed, there are strong grounds for appeal under the Human Rights Act that encodes the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

    @Sid - If you don't like it, don't look at it, but don't be so arrogant (as the Government has been) to assume that *your* personal views of what may or may not be "sick" should govern what everyone else is allowed to see or download. I'm sure there are some who would consider gay porn to be "sick", do you want to align yourself with them? (Oh, hang on, you advise the predominantly male readership of El Reg to "get a girlfriend"...)

    @Back on planet earth...

    "I guess that 70% of the adult male population of the UK is safe." Ok, so what about the other 30%? Should they be arrested and jailed for looking at "Dangerous Pictures"? The point is that the Government has passed a law which is so vague and ill-defined that even the Ministry of Justice doesn't know what it makes illegal!

    I quote from the Ministry of Justice: "it may not be possible for an individual to have absolute certainty about which side of the line an image may fall"

    Huh? The people who are supposed to tell everyone in this country what the law *IS* don't know what it will cover? How does that sound "back on Planet Earth"? (Hint: Try asking Franz Kafka!)

    @ Henry Cobb

    "Seriously, get a Constitution."

    Unfortunately any Constitution passed today would be so loaded down with weasel phrases and exceptions that it would be worthless :-(


    @ RotaCyclic

    "Not likely to end up on the sexual offences register?"

    The notes at the end of the CJIA say that you'll only get on the SOR if you're convicted and given two or more years in jail.

    Of course this doesn't mean that your name won't still be splashed all over the media and you'll be treated as a Sex Offender anyway (especially if you have or want to get a job working with "vulnerable groups" because they'll ban you for "behaviour of concern involving violent pornography", see the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act)

  50. Mark
    Thumb Up

    Does the IWF want anything to do with this law?

    Thanks for your continued coverage on this issue.

    It's just over an hour to go until "extreme" adult porn is a criminal offence to possess - the Government's guidance recommended we report material online to the IWF, yet their website still has no option for extreme images. It isn't even in their FAQ for other kinds of material!

    The Government also promised guidance for the CPS - from : "This will be ready in time for when section 63 comes into force. The guidance will be published shortly afterwards on the CPS website and will be accessible to the public. " - can anyone find it?

    I'm just back from the CAAN protest. I had a great time - I'd just like to thank Martin Salter, and Mrs Longhurst for the good day I had today.


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