I wish this was a “bait and switch” blog title.
But, it isn’t.
According to a New York Appeals court, last week, a case involving a college professor who had a work computer fill with hundreds of web cached child pornographic images:
“Merely viewing Web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our Penal Law.”
– Senior Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick (writing for the majority — 4 to 6)
Judge Ciparick goes on to explain:
“Rather, some affirmative act is required (printing, saving, downloading, etc.) to show that defendant in fact exercised dominion and control over the images that were on his screen. To hold otherwise, would extend the reach of (state law) to conduct — viewing — that our Legislature has not deemed criminal.”
In a nutshell:
“The purposeful viewing of child pornography on the internet is now legal in New York.”
– Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote in one of two concurring opinions.
You see, the defendant claims he didn’t know the images were on his computer. Therefore, an image stored in cache is not treated the same as an image saved in a none-cached area of the computer, print outs, photographs or film. The professor was sentenced, but only because of additional ”evidence, including a folder on his machine that stored about 13,000 saved images of girls whom investigators estimated to be 8 or 9 years old and four messages to an unidentified third party discussing a research project into the regulation of child pornography.”
This is a basic issue of technology moving past the courts and lawmakers failing to understand and act intelligently regarding tech law. While lawmakers cater to the big money of Hollywood’s SOPA/PIPA bills, they’ve failed to protect the innocent.
Although it’s illegal to produce, distribute or possess child pornography in New York, you can freely view it online.