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Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

New York Bill Would Close Loophole in Child Pornography Laws

May 15, 2012
ALBANY, N.Y. - Former police officer Martin Golden was stunned when he first heard the news that New York's highest court ruled that viewing child pornography wasn't a state crime. "It took about 16 minutes of shock, and then I recognized something had to be done," said Golden, a retired New York City police officer and the Republican senator representing Brooklyn. "There are some things that really set off an alarm, and this definitely set off an alarm." Twelve hours after Tuesday's Court of Appeals decision, the New York state Legislature, which has taken years to move on some measures, had new, identical bills dealing with child pornography introduced in the Senate and Assembly. New York's swift response is in line with what other states have done to close loopholes that have grown as technology has advanced. So far, about 15 states have changed child pornography laws to get rid of language that could result in acquittals or no arrest. The bill with another powerful sponsor in the Democrat-led Assembly, Brooklyn's Joseph Lentol, would make it a state crime to simply view child pornography. That would include streaming video, storing images in a "cloud" and other means that don't require downloading or saving pornography to a computer, as the current law does. It will more closely track the federal law. "We probably did the law at the dawn of the computer age and things have changed," Lentol said. "We have to look at some of these laws with the updates in technology."