U.S. Laws Pertaining to Underage Nude Pictures on the Internet

Written by neal litherland
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U.S. Laws Pertaining to Underage Nude Pictures on the Internet
There are many laws governing the appropriateness of underage, nude photos on the internet. (business man image by peter Hires Images from Fotolia.com)

Child pornography is a major, legal issue within the even larger context of child abuse. With the advent of the internet and the ability to digitally transmit pictures and videos from anywhere in the world, it is easier to find such content invading cyberspace. That is why the the laws against child pornography have become stricter, in the United States and around the world.

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The age of a person is one of the most important legality issues regarding nude pictures. If the person in the photographs is 18 years of age or older, then it is not illegal to post nude or pornographic pictures of them on the internet. However, the photographer or the person doing the posting of the pictures, must keep a record of the name, contact information and consent form of the person in the picture, before the picture is posted. Additionally, the photographer should attempt to keep underage persons from viewing pictures that are considered to be pornographic in nature. While the age of consent may vary by state for engaging in sex, the age for posing in pornographic pictures does not.


Law enforcement agents are trained to take into consideration the intent behind underage, nude pictures that are on the internet. For instance, a picture is only considered pornographic if the picture is considered to be lewd in nature. The picture must display an underage person either engaging in sexual activity or displaying the youngster's genitals in a lascivious fashion. Just displaying a nude picture of an underage person (such as a baby picture or a photograph of someone from a nudist colony) is not inherently illegal. What qualifies as lewdness is left up to law enforcement officials to decide; so it is better not to post any underage, nude pictures even if you intend for them not to represent lewd conduct.


Distributing child pornography is a crime, even if the person who created the photo is themselves an underage individual. There are many cases of teens engaging in "sexting" (sending nude pictures or suggestive pictures of themselves---via cell phone---to another teen.) In these situations, one or both of the parties are creating child pornography and distributing it. In these cases, some underage "sexters" have been forced to register as sex offenders, despite also being underage and taking pictures of their own genitalia to send.

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