Senate acts quickly to close dangerous loophole in state's child pornography laws

Thomas F. O'Mara

June 19, 2012

Albany, N.Y., Jnne 19—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) today voted in favor of agreed-upon legislation to prohibit Internet access of child pornography.

In 1996, New York State enacted a law prohibiting the possession of child pornography. However, in a case decided on May 8, 2012, the New York Court of Appeals held that existing state law did not prohibit “accessing and viewing” child pornography on the Internet. The Court specifically invited the Legislature to amend state Penal Law to criminalize accessing child pornography with the intent to view it on the Internet.

The legislation (S.7742) unanimously approved by the Senate today, which has been agreed to by the Assembly and will be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, closes that glaring loophole. ‬

“The protection and safety our children comes first, always, and that’s especially true in this case ,” said O’Mara.  “Child pornography is the worst of crimes and we’ve acted swiftly to close a terrible and dangerous loophole in state law.” 

‪The legislation amends New York's Penal Law to prohibit individuals from knowingly accessing, with the intent of viewing, child pornography on the Internet. Currently under New York law, an individual who views child pornography on a website where the images become automatically embedded in a computer does not "possess" child pornography. This legislation closes that loophole. If enacted in New York, an individual purposefully accessing a website  intending to view child pornography will be committing a class E felony.

As a result of this legislation, child pornography can never be legally possessed in New York State.