ALBANY- State Senator Martin J. Golden led his colleagues in the New York State Senate Majority this week in issuing a new report entitled, "Protecting Children in the Internet Age", 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 comes just days after a major international child pornography ring was uncovered involving more than 2,360 suspects in 77 countries, and the news that the FBI is now investigating approximately 600 of the suspects in the United States. The report also 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.
"The Internet is a wonderful tool that has transformed and improved the lives of millions, but sexual predators have also made it a potentially dangerous weapon that can be used to victimize innocent children," said Senator Marty Golden. "By taking these sensible, aggressive steps we can better protect our kids, provide parents with greater peace of mind, and crack down on pornographers and predators that use computer technology to harm and exploit young children. That is what this legislation is all about."
Senator Golden, a former New York City Police Officer continued, "There is nothing more important than the safety of our children. We have an obligation to fight every day to ensure our children grow up in safe communities and make sure that those who prey on our children are denied access and are unable to harm our children. That is what this legislation is all about."
The report recommends passage of a comprehensive series of measures that will:
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. In fact, a recent study found that fifty-five percent of those arrested for child pornography possession have sexually abused or tried to sexually abuse children.
Because of this strong correlation – and because 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.
Report Recommendations: Through extensive research in this area and numerous discussions with law enforcement officials, the following 15 recommendations are included in the report, and will be advanced during this year’s legislative session
· Increase the Penalties for Promoting Child Prostitution
· Expand the Definition of "Indecent Material" to Include Text or Words (current law requires the dissemination of a photograph)
· 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
· 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
· Enact Measures to Combat Exploitive "Child Modeling" Websites
· Allow Administrative Subpoena Power for Child Pornography Via the Internet
· Change Statute to Help Federal Agents Apply for Search Warrants in NYS
· Increase the Penalties for Sexual Offenses Against Children
· Establish the Crime of Attempting to Lure or Entice a Child
· Establish the Crime of Human Trafficking
Additional Legislation: The following bills have been introduced in the Senate, and would complement the recommendations set forth in the report. The Assembly Majority has not acted on any of the following measures:
S.78, passed 2/26/07 (Padavan) - Establishes the crime of human trafficking;
S.320 (Golden) - Elevates severity of patronizing a prostitute and permitting prostitution involving child prostitutes. Makes certain provisions of promoting prostitution violent felonies;
S.5685, 2006 (Young) - Creates offenses of promoting and possessing a sex offense against a child;
S.147 (Maltese) - Creates crime of exploitive child modeling or employment in any medium including on the website; defines "exploitive child modeling"; applies to minors - class E felony;
S.273, 2006 (Maltese) - Prohibits employment of minors under 16 in exhibition engaging in sexual conduct harmful to minors;
S.189 passed 2/26/07 (Larkin) - Requires the suspending of pay of tenured teachers upon the conviction of a felony for possessing certain child sexual performance materials or promotion;
S.1761 (Rath) - Establishes the crimes of attempting to lure or entice a child;
S.748 passed 1/29/07 (Saland) - Relates to including written communication within the offense of disseminating indecent material to minors;
S.306 (Maltese) - Strengthens laws against obscenity and related offenses; and
S.1977 (Volker) - Relates to receiving of business records in grand jury proceedings.