Users face prosecution if email is illegal

A case, presently under review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), illustrates that users could face prosecution for possession of illegal data on computers, even if they are oblivious to its existence, or have not been involved in its creation.According to a letter sent to ZDNet UK News, a man - whose name cannot be revealed - has been charged with ‘producing and taking pornographic' images he says were sent to him via email.

A case, presently under review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), illustrates that users could face prosecution for possession of illegal data on computers, even if they are oblivious to its existence, or have not been involved in its creation.

According to a letter sent to ZDNet UK News, a man - whose name cannot be revealed - has been charged with ‘producing and taking pornographic' images he says were sent to him via email.

The CPS told ZDNet UK News that receiving illegal images as an email attachment is "tantamount to producing and taking" them, regardless of origin.

Ruth Dickson, Hotline Manager for the Internet Watch Foundation said: "If a person has material containing child pornography they can be charged under the Protection of Children Act." Aware that users may be oblivious of the contents of email, Dickson said the IWF advises people to check their emails and files on a regular basis, deleting any illegal material and emptying their recycling bin.

A police official said that knowledge is not an integral part of the offence. However he suggested that if an individual can prove he was unaware of an email's content it makes the prosecution's job "that bit more difficult".

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