Justice

The Scary Way You Could Accidentally Access Child Porn

Casual surfers of the web's XXX content, beware: you could unknowingly be cresting the illicit wave of child pornography.

According to the Internet Watch Foundation, a U.K.-based online child abuse watchdog group, more and more legal porn websites are storing illegal images of child abuse, which aren't accessible to the average user. According the Guardian report, users who want to view the child pornography need to follow a "specific pathway of links."

Fred Langford, chief executive of the IFW, warned that the everyday porn-watcher is at risk for unwittingly being associated with URLs that host illegal content — and potentially being prosecuted.

"Some people may think they're going to legal adult content but they unfortunately have picked up the cookies on the way that means that they are served the child sexual abuse material. There's a huge risk there," Langford told the Guardian.

Here's a real world metaphor. It's like getting caught in a surveillance sting while shopping at a legal, adult porn shop, which you didn't realize was selling child porn in the back room.

According to the IWF, the group found 743 sites in 2015 that contained back doors to child sexual abuse content, which is a 118 percent increase over the previous year. That's still probably just a drop in the bucket of overall porn sites, but it's still worth thinking twice about where you're going, and where you may end up.

Under federal law, child pornography violations can include harsh penalties, including up to 30 years in prison for production. Even looking at the wrong photos can land an offender with penalties that exceed the 20-year statutory maximum, the Huffington Post reported. Offenders can also be prosecuted under state laws instead of, or in addition to, federal law.

Still, the average porn consumer can take comfort in the fact that the law enforcement must prove knowledge and intent to seek out child porn.