Viewing on-line child porn ruled legal in New York

Apparently, in the state of New York on-line child pornography isn’t a crime anymore. Or better still, an appeal court ruled that Internet users can’t be convicted if they just “view” images related to that particular kind of wicked stuff on a Web browser.

The debated decision came from the New York Court of Appeals on the case of James D. Kent, an assistant professor of public administration at Marist College (Poughkeepsie) on whose computer were found, during a virus scan he requested in 2007, child pornography images.

After the uncovering, Kent was convicted for 134 counts of possessing child porn and 2 counts of having “procured” the images. The man was sentenced to a maximum of three years in jail, but the appeal verdict has now reconsidered (and dismissed) one count of possession and two counts of promoting a sexual performance involving kids.

These particular charges, the Appeal judges decided, can’t be upheld because the corresponding images were found within the defendant’s web browser cache. “Merely viewing Web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our Penal Law”, judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote in the sentence.

“Rather – the sentence states – 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”. The judges agreed on the fact that child pornography is a wicked affair, yet the Court majority didn’t think that criminalizing “all use of child pornography to the maximum extent possible” was required by the laws of NY State.

Web cache aside, professor Kent was still found guilty of possessing about 13,000 child porn images saved in a separate folder of his computer’s hard drive, a fact that the man justified as being part of a research project on the regulation of on-line child pornography.

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