New York Lawmakers Act to Make Viewing Child Porn a Felony

Jun 18, 2012 7:15 AM PST

ALBANY, New York — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and leaders of the state Senate and Assembly announced yesterday that they've reached an agreement that makes viewing online child porn illegal under state law.

The bill would amend New York's penal law and prohibit individuals from knowingly accessing and intending to view child porn on the Internet.

Last month, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that viewing child porn online doesn't constitute either criminal possession or procurement under state penal law, shocking citizens and causing an outcry of concern from legislators.

The new measure now closes the legal loophole that said individuals who viewed child porn on a website where the images were automatically embedded in a computer does not "possess" the content.

If enacted in New York, anyone purposefully accessing a website with intent to view child porn will be committing a class E felony.

"Today, just a month from the time that citizens of New York and our nation were shocked and offended by a loophole that prevented the appropriate prosecution of individuals who view child pornography, we have effectively changed the law," Senator Martin Golden, a co-sponsor of the bill said.

The new state law now more closely resembles the federal law that can be used when a federal agent is involved in an investigation.

“New York will now conform with federal regulations and rightly classify viewing child pornography as a crime. I commend Governor Andrew Cuomo and my colleagues in the State Legislature because our children, families and all citizens will be safer because of these efforts,” Golden said.

Cuomo said he will sign the law that's expected to pass in both state houses by the end of the legislative session on Thursday.

"Together with my colleagues in the Senate and Assembly, we are taking every precaution to ensure that our children are protected and that justice is served," Cuomo said.

The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) weighed in on the new proposal.

"ASACP supports legislation that helps to protect children from victimization online and allows for the successful prosecution of those that would abuse them. Clearly, New York's law required change in order to close a loophole which allowed for the viewing of online child pornography as long as the content was not saved / downloaded," executive director Tim Henning said.

He added, "Legislative bodies are continually struggling to keep pace with online technologies that are abused by criminals including those that sexually abuse innocent children. Historically this has always been the case due to the pace at which new online technologies emerge. It is important to note that the new bill closely parallels current federal law — no doubt an effort by New York's lawmakers to be consistent and fair in its approach."

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