Senate Task Force Announces Measures To Protect Children

 

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District), a member of the Task Force on Critical Choices, today announced the release of a report that calls for the enactment of a wide array of aggressive measures designed to protect children throughout New York from the dangers posed by Internet predators, child pornography and child sexual abuse.

The report from the task force,entitled Protecting Children in the Internet Age,outlines the actions that the Senate believes are needed to protect the children of New York State.

The report comes amid a dramatic expansion of networking and video sharing sites such as MySpace.com and YouTube.com, which present additional challenges to parents seeking to monitor their children’s activities on the Internet.

"Thanks to advances in technology, the Internet has become an integral part of our children's education and lives and we need to make sure that our laws keep pace," said Senator John Flanagan. "The recommendations in this report are designed to enhance the safety of our children and to provide parents with peace of mind.”

The Task Force report highlights a number of significant and growing problems related to the spread of child pornography, which is now estimated to be a $2-$3 billion a year enterprise. The possession or distribution of child pornography is illegal under federal law and in all 50 states, but many researchers and law enforcement officials have found these crimes to be increasing at an alarming rate, fueled largely by the rapid growth in the use of the Internet and modern technologies.

The report also highlights the strong link between child pornography possessors and individuals who sexually victimize children. With this strong correlation and the fact that the conviction rate for child pornography possession is nearly 100 percent, the report emphasizes the importance of cracking down on child pornography as a critical part of any overall strategy to keep children safe from sexual offenses.

Through extensive research in this area and numerous discussions with law enforcement officials, the following recommendations are included in the report and will be a key part of the Senate’s agenda this year:
> Support Law Enforcement Training in the Area of Computer Child Exploitation;
> Amend Sex Offender Registry to Cover Crimes in Federal Jurisdictions;
> Encourage Internet Service Providers to Provide Warnings at Pornographic Sites that Advertise “Teens” and Pedophiliac Chat Rooms;
> Increase the Penalties for Child Pornography Production;
> Enact Measures to Combat Exploitive “Child Modeling” Websites;
> Establish New Penalties for Sexual Offenses Committed with the Aid of a Computer;
> Allow the Admission of Business Records Into Evidence in Child Pornography Grand Jury Proceedings Via Affidavit;
> Require Out-of-State Internet Service Providers That Do Business in New York to Honor Subpoenas for Subscriber Information;
> Allow Administrative Subpoena Power for Child Pornography Via the Internet;
> Change Statute to Help Federal Agents Apply for Search Warrants in New York State;
> Increase the Penalties for Sexual Offenses Against Children;
> Establish the Crime of Attempting to Lure or Entice a Child; and
> Increase the Penalties for Promoting Child Prostitution.

This report follows Senator Flanagan's announcementregarding Senate passage of legislation that would provide additional protection for children who use the Internet. The legislation, which is now being considered by the Assembly, would change current New York State law to treat the transmission of sexually explicit e-mail messages that contain only text the same as messages that contain images or photos.

“Today’s world demands that we continue to update our laws to keep criminals from using technology to harm the most innocent New Yorkers. We must deny them the access they desire, strengthen the laws of our state to increase accountability and educate our parents and children. This report provides us with a reasonable and effective plan to accomplish those goals and we need to act now for the sake of our children,” concluded Senator Flanagan.

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