New Law Strengthens Existing Laws against Internet Access of Child Pornography

September 7, 2012

Assemblymember Steven Englebright, (D- Setauket), announced today that a new law will crack down on Internet users who view child pornography. Englebright commended Governor Cuomo for signing legislation into law that amends New York Penal Law to prohibit individuals from knowingly accessing with the intent of viewing child pornography on the internet.

Until today, under New York law, an individual who viewed child pornography on a website where the images become automatically embedded in a computer did not "possess" child pornography. This legislation closes that loophole. Under the new law if an individual purposefully accesses a website, intending to view child pornography, he or she will be committing a class E felony.

“Children of all ages are abused and exploited in the production of these vile materials,” said Assemblyman Englebright. “With Governor Cuomo’s signing of this new law, child pornography can never be legally possessed in New York State.”

In 1996, New York State enacted a law prohibiting the possession of child pornography. Those provisions were designed to destroy the market for the exploitive use of children. However, in a case decided in May 2012, the New York Court of Appeals held that existing law did not prohibit "accessing and viewing" child pornography on the internet (People v Kent, 2012 NY Slip Op 03572 [May 8, 2012]). The Court specifically invited the State to amend the Penal Law to criminalize accessing child pornography with the intent to view it on the Internet. The law signed today addresses that glaring loophole.