Possessing or possessed?

A thought’s just struck me about the proposed (technically, passed but not implemented) legislation on possession of extreme/violent pornography.

At the moment, people are often convicted of possession of child pornography [*] after the police and their experts find deleted images on their hard disks (because pressing ‘delete’ and ‘empty recycle bin’ leaves the file on your hard disk until it gets overwritten by new stuff).

Legally speaking, is that possession in itself, or is it near-irrefutable evidence of prior possession? It doesn’t make any real difference to child pornography, because it’s been illegal for longer than computers capable of showing it have existed, so I’m not sure that the point has ever been debated in court (it could have theoretical relevance for pseudophotographs and images of 16- and 17-year-olds, both of which were criminalised only in 2004ish, but as far as I can tell only one person‘s been convicted of possession solely of pseudophotographs, and he didn’t use this as his defence [**]).

But for extreme/violent pornography, it’s pretty vital: if you have a currently-legal library of horrible porn, and the government decides to bring the laws into effect, then in the latter case you can delete it and be safe. In the former case, you pretty much have to burn your computer to be sure of not falling foul of the legislation (overwriting the disk with zeros still isn’t necessarily enough, as it might be possible to read information that’s been overwritten on a hard disk by taking it apart and doing clever things with magnets). Which seems pretty fucking unreasonable…

Coincidentally, today’s ‘crazy censoring bastards who should be crucified news’ also includes this and this.

[*] indecent images of children if you’re the law; child abuse images if you’re dementedly PC.

[**] as outlined in this comment here, his defence was more along the lines of ‘what the fuck are you talking about, you mentalists, it’s a fucking cartoon! What, you’re going to convict me, risk banging me up and put me on the sex offenders’ register over a fucking cartoon? What the *fuck*?’. Whilst entirely reasonable in logic (and whilst anyone who thinks that owning pervy cartoons, even 3D ones, should be a criminal offence is a despicable bastard who deserves flaying alive), that doesn’t go down so well with courts of law…

One thought on “Possessing or possessed?

  1. spazmo says:

    “Child abuse images” is also inaccurate. As far as I know it is perfectly legal for me to have images of a child having the shit kicked of them, so long as the images don’t show their hairless cock and/or vag.

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