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Child porn: Even surfing can mean jail

By Peter Wilkinson
CNN

Pete Townshend
Pete Townshend

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Pete Townshend, guitarist for The Who, has yet to be officially charged. CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Diana Muriel discuss the case (January 13)
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Even so much as clicking on a Web site featuring child pornography could result in a jail sentence of up to five years in the United Kingdom.

And if you host a Web site or forward an e-mail containing images of children -- who are or seem to be under the age of 16 -- being abused, you could face imprisonment of up to 10 years.

If you receive and view an unsolicited e-mail -- or spam -- of offensive material and immediately delete it, then that counts as a reasonable explanation, according to Peter Robbins, chief executive of Web campaigners, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

But he warned anyone tempted to access child pornography online that even if you delete images and Internet page addresses from the computer's hard drive, police can still retrieve them, as they did with a PC belonging to pop star Gary Glitter, who was jailed for four months in 1999 for possessing child pornography.

"Once you look at a picture of child pornography, that counts as possession which is punishable by jail," Robbins told CNN.

"Even if you delete it, it's not easily detectable but it still remains on your hard drive and police can find it if they make a raid. If you get a spam and delete it, you're not going to chased. But if you have more than one image that's less defense."

Arrest leads to warning

IWF made its warning after Pete Townshend, songwriter and guitarist for "The Who," said he had looked at the front pages and previews of child pornography sites perhaps three or four times after accidentally stumbling across one. He was later arrested. (Full story)

His admission follows a report in a British tabloid newspaper that UK police, acting on information supplied by U.S. authorities, were investigating a "legendary British rock star" and deciding whether to make an arrest.

Townshend added he had been driven "purely to see what was there" and for research as well as out of anger at how easy they were to access. He denied being a pedophile.

But the 57-year-old star says he never downloaded the material and only entered a site once using a credit card purely as part of research for a book he plans to publish later this year. (Profile)



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