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Protection of Children Act 1978

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Citation Edit

U.K. Protection of Children Act 1978 (20th July 1978).

Overview Edit

The Act essentially prohibits creation or distribution of indecent photographs of children, in whatever form. Proscribed activities are taking, making, permitting to be taken or made, distribution or showing, possessing with intent to possess or show, or publishing an advertisement for such photographs. The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. Simple possession of such a photograph is an offence under s 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, and carries five year maximum penalty. Although there are defences specified in the Acts, it is unlikely in the extreme that any of these could apply to images that might be sent over a public interactive service, so anything discovered in the course of moderation which appears to be an indecent photograph of a child needs to be reported and properly investigated.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the defence to "making" an indecent photograph of a child is provided by s 46 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The MOU addresses the handling of illegal images by a range of professionals included those involved in IT. The key points covered by the Memorandum are:

  • It is an identified role
  • The speed at which the illegal image is reported and any delay was reasonable
  • The handling and storage was appropriate and secure.

Section 8 of the Act refers to corresponding legislation made under the Northern Ireland Act 1974.

Amendments Edit

In 1994, the Act was amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to cover actions not just involving photographs to include images created or altered with machines like computers The Act was amended to refer to taking, or making, "photographs or pseudo-photographs," etc

The Act was further amended in 2008 by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, which provided that "photograph" includes:

a tracing or other image, whether made by electronic or other means (of whatever nature) — (i) which is not itself a photograph or pseudo-photograph, but (ii) which is derived from the whole or part of a photograph or pseudo-photograph (or a combination of either or both), and including data stored on a computer disc or by any other form of electronic means that can be converted into such an image.

Source Edit

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