[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

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,'' 
>Hatch said. 
>	 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
reagle@mit.edu    E0 D5 B2 05 B6 12 DA 65  BE 4D E3 C1 6A 66 25 4E