Golden Joins Passage Of Bill To Crack Down On Staged Internet Violence

 

GOLDEN JOINS SENATE PASSAGE OF BILL TO CRACK DOWN ON STAGED VIOLENCE

FOR INTERNET ENTERTAINMENT

The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S.8207), sponsored by Senator Serphin Maltese (Queens), designed to crack down on the alarming trend of recording criminal acts of violence with the intent of distributing them on the Internet for entertainment purposes.

The legislation, introduced last month at a Capitol news conference, comes in response to an increasing number of violent attacks orchestrated and recorded by individuals who want to post the videos on Internet sharing sites, such as YouTube.com and MySpace.com.

"The Internet is a wonderful resource and educational tool, but unfortunately, some individuals have turned it into one more way to exploit innocent victims," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. "The recent increase of videos on the Internet showing vicious beatings of teenagers and the homeless is an alarming trend. This legislation will ensure that the perpetrators of these disgusting videos will be punished appropriately."

This bill creates the new crime of unlawful violent recording when a person commits an assault while knowingly capturing the crime with a recording device. In addition, a person who persuades others to commit crimes against each other for the purpose of recording, viewing, or broadcasting the crime would be guilty of conspiracy in the fourth degree, a class E felony. Both crimes would allow additional penalties of one and a half to four years in prison.

"With the passage of this bill, we will stop New Yorkers from becoming hit and run victims on the information superhighway," said Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn). "By providing tough penalties for those who commit violent acts with the sole intention of recording, and then posting them on the Internet, we will be giving all residents peace of mind. This savage behavior should not be condoned or tolerated. It is time to stop victimization as entertainment dead in its tracks here in New York."

Earlier this year, a group of teenage girls in central Florida recorded the brutal beating of a sixteen-year-old girl and posted in on You Tube, where it was widely viewed. Just last month, in an incident thought to be inspired by the attack in Florida, a group of middle school girls in southern Indiana videotaped the beating of a twelve-year-old classmate and also posted it on the Internet.

Similarly, attacks against the homeless are gaining notoriety on video sharing sites. A group of high-school students recently went on a crime spree, recording violent attacks against the homeless -- including throwing smoke bombs at and setting fire to homeless individuals -- with the intent to become "famous" on the internet. Similar videos can be found on sites such as MySpace.com, entitled "Bum Hunter", where homeless people are dragged from alleys as they sleep to be assaulted and degraded, modeled after the television show "Crocodile Hunter."

Criminologists call these wild sprees "sport killings," -- middle-class teens, with no criminal records who assault the homeless with bats, golf clubs and paintball guns for fun. Teens sometimes tape themselves in the act, and have said they were inspired by "Bumfights," a video series created in 2002 and sold on the Web that features homeless people pummeling each other for the promise of a few bucks or some alcohol.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, attacks against homeless individuals are at the highest level in almost a decade. In 2006, there were 122 attacks and 20 murders of homeless people.

"With the passage of this bill, we will stop New Yorkers from becoming hit and run victims on the information superhighway," said Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn). "By providing tough penalties for those who commit violent acts with the sole intention of recording, and then posting them on the Internet, we will be giving all residents peace of mind. This savage behavior should not be condoned or tolerated. It is time to stop victimization as entertainment dead in its tracks here in New York."

"The Internet is a great tool when used the right way. But all too often, we see thoughtless individuals use it to glorify acts of violence and that is unacceptable," said Senator Flanagan (R-C-I, East Northport). "By strengthening the penalties these criminals face, this measure will eliminate their ability to gain notoriety from their crime and take away their perceived power. That will send the message that their victim’s rights come first."

"It's disturbing to see folks trying to achieve fame, attention and celebrity through criminal violent acts," said Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R-C, Rome). "Especially those that involve children. As technology evolves to improve people's lives or entertain them, we still need to pay attention to lawful behavior. If criminality is caught on a recorded media, then we need to use it as a tool to pursue and prosecute these offenders."

The bill was sent to the Assembly.