New Hampshire Bill Tries to Tackle Internet Predators

As I did yesterday, here is one state’s movement on nabbing Internet predators and purveyors of child pornography. Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph wrote a lengthy piece on Bill No. SB 495: Court deals a blow to sex-predator bill. new_hampshire_fp_md_clr.gif

Here’s a short summary of his piece, though I do highly encourage reading it…

Bill No. SB 495

SPONSOR: Senate Majority Leader Joseph Foster, D-Nashua.

DESCRIPTION: The legislation provides enhanced penalties for those who use the Internet to prey on children and increases punishment for those who disseminate or manufacturer child pornography.

STATUS: The Senate Judiciary Committee hosted the first public hearing on the bill Monday.

A state Supreme Court decision forces Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and Gov. John Lynch to scale back a proposed crackdown on predators who use the Internet to prey on children. The state cannot charge someone with child pornography if the images used were digitally created and did not represent an “actual child,” according to the ruling. trench_coat_spy_sm_clr.gif

Ayotte told the Senate Judiciary Committee the bill (SB 495) is still badly needed to increase penalties for those who peddle child pornography and close a loophole to make it a crime to expose oneself to a child with the use of a webcam. Right now, these are not mandatory penalties; judges are still left with discretion.

This proposal splits the child pornography law into three separate offenses of possession, distribution and manufacture. Each separate offense would carry enhanced penalties for repeat offenders.

geek_laptop_gif_sm_clr.gifSomeone convicted of possessing child pornography can now face up to seven years upon a first offense; this proposal would increase that to as long as 15 years in prison.

Under current law, someone convicted for making child pornography a second time can face up to 15 years in state prison under current law. This plan would have the same person facing up to a life sentence in state prison.

The proposal requires convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail and online identity.

Now, here’s the juicy part – There’s always something. In this case, a criminal defense lawyer defending would-be pedos on the net:

Michael Iacopino, who heads up the New Hampshire Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the measure violates First Amendment rights of defendants and seeks to deny them due process.

Not sure how they would be denied due process. They’d still get a trial – it’s just a stiffer penalty if convicted. Am I missing something?

Then you have the wonderful folks of Hollywood crying about potential “art” being restricted…

film_reel_moving_sm_clr.gifA lawyer from the Motion Picture Association of America said without changes, this could lead to prosecution for depiction of child sex scenes such as in The Kite Runner and Juno.

Jeanne Herrick said movie studios typically use adult body doubles in these sex scenes and urged the Senate to remove the word “simulated” from the proposed, child pornography law.

Do we need those scenes anyway? Aren’t they sort of contributing to the problem? (Think about it). I’m not saying you shouldn’t have the right to create it OR that it should be censored – but realize you are fighting for the right to depict child sex… ummm. Doesn’t really matter because Ayotte said she thought the lobby’s fears were safe_md_clr.gifunwarranted and said she saw no need for the change in wording.

The bill does have support from several police chief’s and county attorneys.

Same argument I’m going to make as yesterday: legislation aimed at fixing this social malady needs to be properly worded. Everyone should be supporting this, not tearing it apart.

scale_good_evil_md_clr.gifIt’s true that we need stiffer laws for those caught, but that is all that should be coming from the side of law enforcement (in terms of use and restrictions). The “policing,” dare I use the term, needs to be with the parents. The government can’t tell ISPs what they must do, nor can you tell someone they aren’t allowed to do what they want to… but the government can say “…but, if you chose to do this particularly nasty thing (trade/sell/create child porn, “groom” a child online and solicit sex, etc), then we will punish you.” We can’t ban them from MySpace, but we can warn them that if they use it to solicit minors, they will be locked up.

There is a difference here and a fine line that needs to be respected. Otherwise, all the uncle_sam_guy_scales_sm_clr.gifwell-intended bills will continue to face scrutiny from specific parties committed to fighting infringement of established freedoms. (And again, I am a liberal; I don’t want to lose freedoms – but I recognize the need for a solution to this problem).

Until the government can get it right, and even after – parents must remain vigilant. Do the research and know what your state is doing to protect your kids. But remember, box_popup.gifthere is no substitute to your own parenting. Be a 21st century parent and know what your kids are doing. Monitoring software like PC Pandora 5.0 can help…

One Response to “New Hampshire Bill Tries to Tackle Internet Predators”

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