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U.K. seeks to ban violent online porn

Government announces proposal to outlaw possession of "extreme pornography" in effort to limit online images of abuse.

The U.K. government is seeking to outlaw the possession of violent pornography obtained over the Internet.

The Home Office on Tuesday announced a proposal to ban "extreme pornography" and discussed what changes in the law are necessary to prevent people downloading images of sexual abuse.

Home Office Minister Paul Goggins said in a statement: "We are proposing to strengthen the criminal law in respect of possession of a limited category of extreme material featuring adults. The intention is to reduce the demand for such material and to send a clear message that it has no place in our society."

The Obscene Publications Act already prevents the distribution of images of sexual abuse in the United Kingdom, but it does not apply to foreign Web sites or other international distribution channels. This means that possession of such material has yet to be outlawed.

The U.K. government defines "extreme pornography" as material that is abusive and features illegal activities such as realistic depictions of violence, bestiality or necrophilia. The government has said it wants to break the demand and supply cycle for such material by making it illegal to own.

A spokesman for the Home Office added: "At the moment it is illegal to publish it but not to possess it. This would crack down on possessing it in the U.K."

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is backing the move.

Peter Robbins, CEO for the IWF, said: "The IWF will actively contribute in the consultation phase to achieve clarity in the new laws and to ensure appropriate partnerships are in place for the content that fails the test to be removed and where possible the individuals responsible investigated."

Dan Ilett of Silicon.com reported from London.