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Authorities Cracking Down on Online Child Porn

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Last month I posted about the runaway bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey book series. At the time, I mentioned a disturbing ruling out of New York, in which the state’s highest court determined that viewing child pornography online was not necessarily a crime. The case involved James Kent, a college professor who, after experiencing some issues with his computer, had it examined by the college’s computer technicians. The repair workers discovered hundreds of exploitive images on the computer, most of it stored on the hard drive. Some of the images, however, were stored in the computer’s web cache, which is essentially temporary storage of web pages for faster access at a later time.

Kent was convicted of 141 counts relating to the porn that was downloaded to the computer. The court’s ruling did not disturb those convictions. However, New York’s highest court ruled that the images stored in the web cache did not demonstrate that Kent had “possession” of those particular files.

The court’s decision shocked many people nationwide and has become fodder for ridicule. In response, a New York state senator introduced a bill aimed at fixing the loophole in state law. Oddly, the bill has stalled in the state legislature. Despite the ruling, viewing child porn can still be prosecuted as a federal crime in New York.

Other jurisdictions have been aggressively pursuing child pornographers. In New Jersey, federal prosecutors charged Maksym Shynkarenko, a Ukrainian national, with running one of the world’s largest child porn distribution rings. According to authorities, images distributed by Shynkarenko have lead to convictions in 47 US states and numerous other countries. In Texas, Erika Susan Perdue is facing federal charges of transporting, receiving, and possessing child porn.

In the aftermath of New York’s dangerous state-law deficiencies, it is reassuring to see federal prosecutors and law enforcement taking a hard-line approach to child porn dealers. With each major bust and sting operation, countless children are being saved from a lifetime of horror.