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Thoughtcrime a Reality: U.S. Toughens Child Pornography Law
> WASHINGTON (Reuter) - Congress cracked down on child
>pornographers in a new law that took effect Tuesday, making it
>illegal to appear to depict children in sexual situations,
>whether in films, computer images or photographs.
> But the American Civil Liberties Union decried the law as
>unconstitutional and a waste of prosecutors' resources, since it
>expanded a law designed to protect any actual children used to
>produce pornography. The ACLU said it also was so broad that
>adults portraying children in films could risk prosecution.
> Previously, depictions of minors produced by computers
>without using children had been outside the scope of federal
>law. The new law expands the definition of child pornography to
>include any image -- photograph, video or computer-generated
>image -- that depicts or appears to depict a minor engaged in
>sexually explicit conduct.
> Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah
>Republican, said it was designed to protect children from sexual
>exploitation and pedophiles. ``This is a tough bill aimed a
>child pornographers,'' he said.
> ``While federal law has failed to keep pace with technology,
>the purveyors of child pornography have been right on line with
>it. Passage of this bill will help to correct that problem,''
> But ACLU legislative counsel Daniel Katz said it had major
>ramifications for artists, the film industry and journalism. He
>said it included a waiver-of-privacy rule to permit newsroom
>searches for information related to investigations of child
> ``It is much broader, and the ramifications are
>extraordinary, both for artists and for people in the cinema,''
>Katz said. Under this expanded definition of child pornography,
>it would be illegal to produce or show a film that included an
>adult actor or actress portraying a minor in a sexually explicit
>scene, he said.
> Computers can be used to alter photographs, films and videos
>to produce sexually explicit materials virtually
>indistinguishable from unretouched photographs. The new
>technology has hampered prosecutors in their ability to obtain
>convictions because it can be impossible to identify individuals
>or to prove that the materials were produced using real
> The new law would allow prosecution of pornographers whether
>or not the identity of the child could be determined, so long as
>the person, even if an adult, appeared to be a minor. Currently,
>pornography is protected under free speech laws except when a
>minor child is involved.
> Hatch said the Judiciary Committee determined that
>computer-generated pornography posed many of the same dangers to
>children as did pornography made from unretouched photographs in
>that it could be used to seduce children into sexual activity or
>to encourage a pedophile to prey on them.
> The new law sets mandatory prison sentences of 15 years for
>production of child pornography, five years for possession of
>the materials and life in prison for repeat offenders convicted
>of sexual abuse of a minor.
> The child pornography law was included in part of a broad
>spending bill President Clinton signed into law Monday. It had
>passed the Senate Monday just hours before the midnight deadline
>for the start of the new financial year.
> It does not address new or expanded regulation of the
>Internet. The Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to
>overturn a landmark ruling by a Philadelphia appeals court that
>blocked as unconstitutional a new federal law barring indecency
>on the Internet.
Regards, You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination
is out of focus. -Mark Twain
Joseph Reagle http://rpcp.mit.edu/~reagle/home.html
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