Senate unanimously passes measure making it illegal to access and view child pornography on the internet
ALBANY, N.Y. – Senator Timothy M. Kennedy, D-58th District, announced the Senate has taken action to close a loophole that pedophiles had exploited to legally access child pornography. The Senate approved legislation Tuesday that updates the state’s penal law to fully prohibit online viewing of child pornography. An individual will be guilty of a class E felony if he or she knowingly accesses child pornography with the intent to view it.
In a recent court decision, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that current law does not prohibit individuals from accessing and viewing child pornography on the internet. To be convicted of any crime, a pedophile had to download, save or print child porn materials. Viewing materials through streaming video or storing content in a “cloud” was deemed legal.
“Essentially, the courts held that it is completely lawful to access and view child pornography online in New York State. As the father of three children, I was appalled that this blatant loophole had been left open. We knew it was absolutely critical that we take action to protect children across the state,” said Senator Kennedy. “Under this legislation, our state closes the loopholes that pedophiles had exploited to access child pornography online. The law has finally caught up with technology. Tough penalties will now be handed down to pedophiles who access and view child porn.”
The legislation amends the crime of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, which is a class E felony. Now if an individual “knowingly accesses with intent to view” child pornography materials, he or she can be charged with this E-felony offense.
Under previous law, an individual could only be convicted of this crime if he “knowingly has in his possession or control” child pornography. That meant an individual had to knowingly download content to his computer’s hard drive or have materials in his possession. Now, predators can be convicted for knowingly accessing child pornography anywhere online.
The May 8, 2012 decision in People v. Kent highlighted the need for reform to child pornography laws. Just six weeks later, the state has taken action to enact reform legislation.
Senator Kennedy took to the Senate floor to explain the urgency of enacting this legislation. You can view his remarks here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBKANMb3_fs.
Senator Timothy M. Kennedy represents the New York State Senate’s 58th District, which is comprised of the towns of Cheektowaga, Eden, Hamburg and West Seneca, the city of Lackawanna and the city of Buffalo. More information is available at http://kennedy.nysenate.gov.