What Content is Illegal on the Internet?

Currently, there are more than four billion users of the internet globally. Everyone uses an internet connection for various purposes – while some enjoy looking at pictures of pets, others are using it for the wrong reasons, such as sharing illegal content.

If you get exposed to such content, it becomes easier to track you down. Law enforcement agencies will quickly arrest anyone who engages in posting or viewing illegal content online – even if you stumbled upon these websites without you knowing.

In the US, these crimes are in breach of federal and state have in place federal laws such as the data protection act of 1996. These violations will result in many years in prison, depending on the nature of the crime. Most countries have similar laws in place to protect potential victims.

What is illegal to view on the internet?

Illegal content placed on the internet may be infringing or prohibited under different Commonwealth or state laws. Some online content may also be considered illegal or prohibited, such as:

  • Child pornography
  • Instructions on how to commit a crime, violent activity, or use drugs
  • Real sex
  • Too much violence

Kids and young people may not seek out inappropriate content deliberately. They may inadvertently stumble on such content while carrying out online searches or they may seek it out or be referred content by others. People using smartphones might come across content that may be blocked by school and home internet filters.

What Content is Illegal on the Internet: What is Illegal Content?

The scope of illegal content varies with different countries, but in most cases, it includes child sexual abuse material. Users can discover illegal digital content online in various spaces, including websites, social media platforms, or file-sharing services. It is mostly discovered inadvertently, for instance, when a user clicks on links in spam messages. Illegal content may also be shared through emails or messaging services.

In addition to child sexual abuse material, illegal content could include obscene or racial content. Some illegal content – in particular, child porn material – may be extremely distressing to look at and lead to sex crimes. Illegal content includes:

  • Footage of real or simulated violence, accidents, or criminal activity, from movies, video clips, or games.
  • Sexually explicit images, including those of child sexual abuse.
  • Content that promotes extreme political views, potentially used for radicalizing vulnerable people.
  • Materials that promote hate towards groups or individuals based on religion, race, or sexual preference.
  • Instructions that promote violence, crime, or unsafe behaviour, such as how to make weapons and bombs, drug use, or terrorism.
  • Gaining unauthorized access to streaming services.
  • Stealing IP address and committing computer fraud and abuse

What Content is Illegal on the Internet: How People Access Illegal Content?

Users may be exposed to such content through otherwise activities such as:

  • Unexpected results from search engines
  • Clicking on unknown links
  • Typing a web address incorrectly
  • Clicking on a pop-up ad
  • Clicking on prize offers or online games

At times, people deliberately access illegal content, especially as they get into adolescence. This can be because of curiosity or sharing with friends for how shocking the content is.

Illegal content can expose us to concepts that they are not ready to manage and that may breach social and cultural beliefs. Some content can be distressing. Kids exposed to such content may not report it to teachers or parents because they may be ashamed of what they have seen.

What Content is Illegal on the Internet: How the Law Deals with Illegal Content

Even though it may not be an offence to view or possess prohibited content, authorities can take action under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to reduce the availability of this type of content. Material that is prohibited is any online content that is classified RC (refused classification) or X 18+ by the Classification Board.

You can get more information about illegal online content and what constitutes illegal content and how to file a complaint with the ACMA if you or your loved ones access such content, on the ACMA’s website.

What Content is Illegal on the Internet: 3 Examples of Illegal Content in 2020

1. Hiring an assassin

The dark web is referred to as the criminal world of the internet service. It is not indexed by search engines, making users remain anonymous. You’ll find many examples of criminal activities, including hiring an assassin.

It is illegal to hire an assassin. If law enforcement catches you, you will be apprehended.

2. Terrorism

People can share their ideas and connect people from all over the world by using the internet. Unfortunately, terrorists can also share their ideas, inspiring others to join them.

3. Illegal drugs

Buying drugs online is very common. If you try to buy drugs online, you’ll attract attention from legal authorities. Searching for terms relating to finding or buying these drugs will raise alarm bells.

What Content is Illegal on the Internet: Limiting Exposure to Inappropriate Content

Labels, filters, and safe zones make it possible to reduce the risk of exposure to unsuitable or illegal content and to set time limits for internet access. When deciding which tools are the most appropriate for your family, consider the level of guidance required from you and balance this against the range of content you may need to access.


Labelling tools fix descriptive tags to web pages. Most browsers can read such labels and be programmed to block access to these sites or advise when websites are unsuitable. You can label websites according to how suitable they are for you or your family.

These tools, together with a web browser, make it possible to set levels of access for labelled sites and block access to anything above those levels. Some internet browsers also make it possible to prevent accessing unlabeled sites.


These are computer software programs that provide various functions to screen, block, or monitor prohibited content. Most filters can be customized to suit the internet activities of every user. Some most used features of filters include:

a) Category blocking, enabling a person to choose from various content categories; for instance, violence and pornography, and decide which to allow and which to block

b) Time controls, allowing you to limit internet access to certain times of the day

c) Logging which makes it possible for parents to track and record a history of sites visited by their kids

d) Service blocking allowing people to block access to particular services, such as online games, peer-to-peer, or social networking

Safe zones

Safe zones are secure networks providing access to various websites specially created for kids and therefore have little risk of exposure to illegal content. Most safe zones are free to use, but some are subscription-based, requiring a special login and password because they are protected from other places on the internet.

What Content is Illegal on the Internet: Conclusion

If you come across online content that you think is illegal, there are several ways to deal with it. You can report all unlawful activities to the site administrator and report the content to the Cyber Report team. Also, you should close the page immediately.

If what you have seen has shocked or upset you, speak to someone you trust – or seek help from a professional through a support or counselling service. To better protect yourself and your loved ones, use a filter or other tools to block some content and use safe search settings in your browser.

In the US, these crimes are in breach of federal and state have in place federal laws such as the data protection act of 1996. These violations will result in many years in prison, depending on the nature of the crime.

Read about other major cyber-crimes that exist:

About Post Author

3 thoughts on “What Content is Illegal on the Internet?

Leave a Reply