Did you know it can be illegal just to look at something on the Internet, depending on what it is? That’s why it’s important that you know what’s illegal and should be avoided.
One thing, for instance, that’s highly illegal to view on the Internet — even if you don’t download it — is child pornography involving minors aged 17 and younger. Federal and Texas laws against child porn are severe and can lead to many years in prison.
Even a search for child porn on the Web could get you arrested and charged with a crime. That’s because an active search for child porn can indicate an intent to commit the crime of viewing or possessing child pornography.
Also, simply viewing and not downloading child porn on the Internet still can lead to the material being stored in your browser’s cache. Technically, that means you “possess” the illegal material, despite the fact that you didn’t download it.
Many people accidentally see things on the Internet without actively seeking them, and that’s not a crime. Nor is it a crime to view Internet porn featuring consenting adults, which has become one of the largest forms of online adult entertainment.
But make no mistake, if you actively search for child porn online, you could be arrested.
Today, public outrage, vigorous law officers, tough prosecutors, and severe laws can mean you face a difficult legal battle to remain free from prison.
Keep in mind that if you’re charged with possessing child porn on your computer and claim that you didn’t put it there, your previous searches might make it difficult to prove that claim.
For this reason, it’s important to engage an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer at the Neal Davis Law Firm if you need legal help.
Beyond child porn, there are many other sensitive subjects for online searches. And while simply searching some topics may not be a crime, it could raise a red flag for law officers monitoring Internet activity.
Among such subjects are those related to terrorism, illegally modifying weapons, or making explosives at home.
For instance, if you’re a fan of murder mystery novels and run related searches, having “murder” in your search doesn’t make you a suspected murderer. But in other cases, the nature of your search could spark suspicion and an investigation by authorities, depending on the words you use in that search. Authorities can identify you and your computer’s IP address, and follow up with an investigation and even an arrest.
Beyond that, if you use torrent downloading to obtain legally copyrighted material such as a movie or music, that’s illegal. Torrenting in itself is not illegal, provided that the material being downloaded isn’t protected by copyright. But downloading or sharing copyrighted material is illegal under federal law.
If tagged with such a copyright violation, you could lose your Internet service and even face a copyright infringement lawsuit by the holder of the copyrighted material which you downloaded or streamed. (Unofficial streaming services online also may be illegal.)
It also may be illegal to share another person’s pictures and words on a website without their consent. That can be construed as a copyright violation if you own the website, and you could face fines ranging up to $150,000 and possible time in jail.
Also, be sure to avoid the “Deep Web,” or what’s often called the Internet’s “criminal underbelly.” That’s where the most questionable materials can be found. For instance, just poking around for information such as “how to hire an assassin” may get you tagged by authorities and investigated.
Many things are perfectly legal to view on the Internet. But many others are not. Be aware of these distinctions and protect your legal rights. Contact the Neal Davis Law Firm to discuss your legal rights if you’ve been charged with a computer crime.